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Britain’s Monkey Dust ‘epidemic’ will likely continue until the UK changes its regressive drugs laws

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Britain’s Monkey Dust ‘epidemic’

Police and emergency workers in the UK have warned addicts over the growing availability of a synthetic drug that seems to give users super-human strength and leaves them in a dangerous zombie-like state. Similar to PCP, the substance is said to have caused some users to jump off high buildings and others to rip the flesh from other people’s faces with their teeth. Monkey Dust, which gained notoriety under the moniker “Bath Salts” in the US several years ago, is the street name for Methylenedioxy-α-pyrrolidinohexiophenone (MDPHP), a synthetic cathinone stimulant. It can be bought for as little as £2 ($2.54) per dose on the streets of Britain, where it is reported to have left many users in a state of psychosis, roaming around towns and cities at night, throwing their bodies about the place while screaming and shouting incoherently.

In a statement issued last week, Staffordshire Police Chief Superintendent Jeff Moore said his force had recorded 950 incidents involving the drug over a three-month period, noting how the highly-unpredictable substance makes users difficult to deal with, and poses a risk to both addicts and those around them. Moore said people who take the drug can be affected by it for several days, and that emergency workers often struggle to provide them with treatment, due to the differing effect the substance can have on people. The police chief spoke out after the death of two drug users was linked to the consumption of Monkey Dust by West Mercia Police last month. Speaking with the BBC last week, North Staffordshire health worker Debbie Moores described the substance as one of the most harmful drugs she and her colleagues have ever encountered, noting: “The impact on agencies is huge and it takes us away from what we are supposed to be doing.”

While Monkey Dust is classified only as a Class B drug in the UK, suggesting it poses a similar threat to users as cannabis, and could be purchased legally until the introduction of the New Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016, it is known to reduce users’ perception of pain, remove inhibitions and cause vivid hallucinations and acute paranoia. Also referred to as “Cannibal Dust” and “Zombie Dust”, the drug causes users’ body temperatures to rise rapidly, and is said to make their perspiration smell of seafood. Police have described attempting to restrain Monkey Dust users as akin to trying to deal with the Incredible Hulk, noting how the drug appears to imbue those who take it with super-human strength. “People can remain in this state for two or three days, which is putting a significant strain on our resources, and that of our partners, such as the ambulance and the hospital,” Moore said.

The devastating effect the drug can have on people has been attracting high levels of media attention for years in the US, where its use has been widely documented from around the turn of the decade. In 2012, a naked man who was reported to have consumed Bath Salts was shot dead by police after ripping off a homeless man’s face with his teeth. Ronald Poppo lost an eye and most of his facial features when he was attacked by Rudy Eugene, during an attack witnesses described as looking like something out of a zombie film. In May of this year, police in Florida said they had arrested a woman who gouged her mother’s eyeballs out with glass shards before killing her while high on the drug. Camille Balla, 32, is said to have admitted murdering her mother when officers arrived at the property they shared. While Britain has yet to witness cases as depraved as these linked to the use of Monkey Dust, the fact that the substance appears to be growing in popularity in the UK only makes these types of incidents more likely.

Some drug workers have expressed the hope that the growing use of Monkey Dust across the UK is part of a passing fad, and that the drug’s increasing popularity will soon wane. This is unlikely. Much in the same way that other new psychoactive substances such as synthetic cannabinoids including Spice and Black Mamba have, Monkey Dust will likely grow in popularity among vulnerable groups such as the homeless and prisoners, who will remain attracted to it thanks its potency, low price and the ease with which it can be obtained. The sad truth of the matter is that these types of substances have become more attractive to many addicts than more traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine. While curious casual users will likely soon realise that consuming Monkey Dust is not a good idea, those seeking oblivion will view it as an easy and cheap way to achieve their goal.

Unfortunately, substances such as these will likely remain popular all the while countries such as the UK refuse to ditch their regressive drugs policies. While the debate around legalising or at least decriminalising substances such as heroin and cocaine is extremely complex, dealing with addicts as individuals who require treatment rather than punishment, as countries such as Norway are doing, might go some way to ensuring these types of substances are unable to trap our most vulnerable citizens in a stranglehold from which some of them will be unable to escape.

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Two UK prison guards jailed separately for smuggling drugs to inmates as country’s penal crisis spirals

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two UK prison guards jailed

A woman who worked as a prison guard in the UK has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years after being found guilty of smuggling drugs estimated to be worth £10,000 into the prison where she was employed.

Claire Bennett, 44, was also convicted of leaking secret information to inmates at a young offenders’ institution in Aylesbury, the county town of Buckinghamshire.

Bennet was sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court last Friday after confessing to misconduct in public office, supplying a controlled class B drug, possession of a class B drug, and bringing/throwing or conveying a list “A’” prohibited item into/out of a prison.

Commenting on Bennett’s jail term, PC Maureen Moore from the Thames Valley Police Prison Investigation team, said: “Bennett knowingly brought drugs into the prison which causes danger and violence to both prisoners and officers alike.

“Her conduct jeopardised the safe running of the wings.

“The existence of corruption in prisons will always lead to an issue of order and control.

“The presence of drugs in prison leads to violence, bullying, debt and prevents prisoners from addressing their substance misuse.

“Her conduct severely compromised the safety of staff and visitors to the prison.”

During a separate hearing at Peterborough Crown Court yesterday, a 20-year-old prison guard who attempted to smuggle a knife, mobile phones and drugs estimated to be worth thousands of pounds into HMP Peterborough was jailed for more than three years.

Ibrahim Hussain, who had only been working at the prison for a year at the time, was caught attempting to smuggle a package stuffed full of illicit goods to inmates when officers at the jail carried out a random search.

Sentencing Hussain to three-years-and-four-months behind bars, the start of which he will serve at a young offenders’ institution due to his age, Judge David Farrell said his actions had put lives at risk, adding that he had “betrayed his fellow officers and betrayed his moral code of conduct”.

Prisons in England and Wales are widely accepted to be close to breaking point, with problems associated with underfunding and overcrowding being hugely exacerbated by widespread drug use and rising levels of violence.

In September, the Observer newspaper revealed that hundreds of prison guards had been sacked for attempting to smuggle contraband into UK jails over the course of the past six years.

Speaking back in April as the UK government unveiled £10 million of new funding to improve security and conditions at jails across the country, British Prisons Minister Rory Stewart vowed would resign from his role in a year if he fails to cut drug use and violence at 10 target jails in England.

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Icelandic men arrested for attempting to smuggle cocaine worth A$2.5 million into Australia

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Icelandic men arrested

Two men from Iceland have been arrested in Australia after one of them was allegedly caught attempting to smuggle cocaine concealed in the lining of a suitcase through Melbourne Airport.

A 25-year-old Icelandic national was subjected to further searches while passing through customs at the airport after an x-ray conducted by officers from Australian Border Force (ABF) revealed anomalies within his luggage.

On further inspection, investigators discovered 4kgs of a white powder had been sewn into the bag’s lining, which laboratory tests later confirmed was cocaine.

The man, who had arrived in the country on a flight from Hong Kong, was subsequently charged with importing and possession of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

After questioning the man, officers raided a room in a Melbourne hotel, where they found a further 2.7kgs of a substance that was later confirmed to be cocaine.

A 30-year-old Icelandic man was detained at the scene and was later charged with importing and possession of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

In total, the street value of the drugs seized from both men was estimated by police to be A$2.5 million ($1.82 million).

If found guilty, they could face spending the rest of their lives behind bars.

In a statement, an ABF spokesperson said the arrests highlighted the skill with which the agency’s officers are able to identify drug traffickers attempting to bring illicit substances into the country via its airports.

“Our officers process millions of air travellers each year and it speaks volumes about their expertise and professional judgement that they have been able to identify this individual and a significant amount of dangerous drugs,” acting ABF Assistant Commissioner of Port Operations Command Claire Rees said.

“Working closely with our law enforcement partners we are committed to detecting anyone arriving in Australia with the intent to carry out criminal activity and prevent harmful drugs from reaching Australian communities.”

Australia is one of the most expensive countries on the planet in which to purchase cocaine, mostly on account of the fact that the nation is so far away from the region where the drug is produced.

According to this year’s Global Drug Survey, anybody looking to buy cocaine in Australia can expect to pay approximately A$311 per gram, compared to an average global price of A$127, or just $8.60 in Columbia.

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Death of drug user in north east England linked to heroin contaminated with fentanyl

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heroin contaminated with fentanyl

Drug users in the north east of England have been warned about a batch of heroin thought to be contaminated with fentanyl or carfentanyl after an addict died in the region.

In a statement on its website, Cleveland Police linked the death of a 34-year-old man on Sunday to the possible circulation of heroin mixed with the deadly synthetic opioids, which are increasingly being added to street drugs such as heroin and cocaine in a bid by traffickers and dealers to maximise their profits.

The force said a possible contaminated batch of heroin might also be behind the condition of a woman who is currently critically ill in hospital.

The 30-year-old woman was admitted to hospital on Saturday and was yesterday still receiving treatment for her condition.

A police spokesperson said the force is currently awaiting the results of toxicology tests to establish if the man and women had taken drugs contaminated with fentanyl or carfentanyl.

“Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than street heroin with carfentanyl 100 times more potent than that,” Cleveland Police said.

“Fentanyl is an anaesthesia used to help prevent pain after surgery or other medical procedures. It has the same effects as morphine but is significantly more powerful. Carfentanyl is used on animals.

“Anyone who has information about drugs activity in their area is asked to contact police.”

While fentanyl and carfentanyl have long posed a threat to addicts in the US, where both substances have played a major role in the country’s spiralling opioid crisis, overdose deaths linked to the drugs are on the rise in England and Wales.

At the beginning of August, Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the number of drug overdose deaths in which fentanyl played a role increased by 29% in 2017.

There were 75 fentanyl-related deaths last year, up from 58 in 2016.

The ONS noted that carfentanyl was mentioned for the first time in death certificates in England and Wales last year, and was logged as having played a part in 27 deaths.

Commenting on the figures, Ellie Osborn, Health Analysis Statistician at the ONS, said: “The figures published today show that the level of drug poisoning deaths in 2017 remained stable.

“However, despite deaths from most opiates declining or remaining steady, deaths from fentanyl continued to rise, as did cocaine deaths, which increased for the sixth consecutive year.”

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