$1.5m synthetic drugs bust including chemical linked to deaths
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’’.