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Drugs Cocaine

Cocaine is now top street drug

by Claire Connolly Doyle

DRUG squad members say that cocaine, traditionally the drug of the rich, is now being snorted by children in Limerick estates while it has already over-taken ecstasy as the favourite "clubbers drug.

Cocaine that is now being sold in Limerick is a lot of cheaper than it was five years ago, because of the increase in demand for it and because of its poorer quality. While in the 1990s, cocaine cost at least 70 punts per gram, the same amount now costs as little as 50 to 70 euro - and this is not beyond the grasp of teenagers.

But gardai say that while seizures of cocaine that they have made in Limerick the last year, emerged to be 90 per cent pure, this was because they had intercepted the consignments immediately after arriving in Ireland from Spain or Holland.

"We know from forensic laboratory tests that the purity drops dramatically by the time it passes through the hands of several dealers down the line and is usually as little as five per cent pure by the time it hits the streets, said Det Sgt John Healan of Limericks drug squad. "Depending on how far up the chain the cocaine is being cut, it can be cut with other pharmaceutical products, while street dealers simply use glucose.

Talking to the Limerick Post this week, he said that cocaine is now very much a "street drug and that while he believes that its effects are very similar to its forerunner, ecstasy, it is more addictive and has severe psychological and physical effects.

The principle network in Limerick, with whom two people jailed recently for three and six years respectively were associated, has gone to ground since garda activity in the city climbed to unprecedented levels with day and night armed patrols. But according to the local drug squad, some sources are managing to get in. "They have very good contacts in Spain and Holland and also Bogota in Columbia which is where, it is a well known fact, most of the worlds cocaine is produced.

Heroin, which is considered the most dangerous of all drugs because of its physiological addiction and its link to violent crime, continues to be used only amongst a small group of people in Limerick but looking at patterns in other areas, Det Sgt Healan believes that cocaine users in Limerick may soon start smoking heroine to "come down off the effects of cocaine and end up inadvertently becoming heroin addicts.

Confirming that cannabis remains the most commonly seized drug in Limerick, he added that ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine are all now close runners up. "A few years ago, ecstasy would have been way ahead of cocaine but now they are on a par and if anything, the use of ecstasy is waning.

Asked if crack cocaine had yet surfaced in Limerick, Det Sgt Healan replied that as yet it hasn't, but that again, he fears that it may only be a matter of time. Crack cocaine is perhaps the deadliest of all drugs, it can be addictive from the very first time it is used, can also prove fatal in its first use and can make the user "violently berserk.

A MWHB spokesperson was unable to comment on drugs related admissions.

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