$1.5m syn­thetic drugs bust in­clud­ing chem­i­cal linked to deaths

Nelson Mail - - NEWS -

Po­lice have made a num­ber of ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant’’ ar­rests af­ter seiz­ing syn­thetic drugs with a street value of $1.5 mil­lion.

Some of the drugs in­cluded the deadly AMB-FUBINACA chem­i­cal, linked to around 20 deaths in New Zealand this year.

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor John Sut­ton said po­lice had been work­ing on a back­ground in­ves­ti­ga­tion for a month, fol­low­ing a break­through in­ter­cep­tion by cus­toms.

Search war­rants at a Rod­ney stor­age unit, north of Auck­land, un­cov­ered 11kg each of AMBFUBINACA and AB-PINACA, the psy­choac­tive sub­stances of­ten used to make syn­thetic drugs. In all, nine search war­rants led to a se­ries of drug swoops in Auck­land, Palmer­ston North and Christchurch thanks to Op­er­a­tion Tiger – an on­go­ing quest to tar­get the im­port- ation of psy­choac­tive sub­stances.

Fol­low­ing the most sig­nif­i­cant raid in Rod­ney, a 58-year-old man will ap­pear in the North Shore District Court next Wed­nes­day on mul­ti­ple charges – in­clud­ing im­port­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and sup­ply­ing psy­choac­tive sub­stances.

New Zealand has been held by the deadly grip of syn­thetic drugs in re­cent months.

Ten deaths over the course of July were linked to the haz­ardous drug in Auck­land alone, trig­ger­ing a num­ber of seizures of the drug by po­lice as well as a pub­lic warn­ing over its dan­gers.

The prod­uct for­merly re­ferred to as ‘‘syn­thetic cannabis’’ con­tains AMB-FUBINACA. But a re­newed warn­ing to stay away from the sub­stance has prompted po­lice and health author­i­ties to call it syn­thetic drugs.

The ex­tremely danger­ous chem­i­cal has killed around 20 peo­ple in New Zealand this year and was the same one which left drug users in a ‘‘zom­bie-like’’ state in New York in 2015. In De­cem­ber last year, The New York Times re­ported that scores of peo­ple suf­fered ad­verse af­fects from a syn­thetic drug con­tain­ing AMBFUBINACA said to be ‘‘85 times more po­tent than cannabis’’.

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