Gardaí: No evidence drug linked to teen death is in circulation

Gardaí say they have no evidence to suggest that a potentially lethal synthetic drug which has been linked to the death of a teenager in Cork two weeks ago is still in circulation.

They were responding to claims by a local councillor that the deadly substance, U-47700, known on the street as U4, is still being pushed by dealers in the same area where suspected drugs death victim Michael Cornacchia lived.

The talented 16-year-old footballer was found dead at home in the Greenmount area of the city on January 16.

Gardaí found a white powder at the house which tests at the Forensic Science laboratory confirmed was the synthetic drug U4.

The opioid has already been linked to dozens of fatal overdoses in the US, including that of singer Prince who died last year after taking a cocktail of drugs including U4.

While it could be up to three more weeks before the results of toxicology tests are available, gardaí believe the drug played a role in Michael Cornacchia’s death.

Independent councillor Mick Finn, who knew the teenager, said yesterday he heard locally that the drug was still being distributed “on tick” in the area.

“Gardaí need to root this out and rid Cork of a drug that has already caused devastation,” he said.

“Anyone found distributing it, or similar deadly drugs, should face a mandatory prison sentence of at least five years.

“The time is up for dealers or small-time sellers getting off with fines or community service. We need to get much tougher on those getting hard drugs into the chain.”

However, Det Insp Declan O’Sullivan, head of the Cork Divisional Drugs Unit, said they have no evidence or intelligence to suggest the drug is still available in the city, and that they have been liaising closely with the HSE over the last two weeks and have not seen the drug manifest since Mr Cornacchia’s death.

A juvenile was arrested a day after the death for questioning about the supply of U4, and was released without charge. Det Insp O’Sullivan said investigations are ongoing. “Substantial progress has been made in identifying how the deceased came to be in possession of the substance. A detailed file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to all aspects of this incident, and further arrests are likely,” he said.

He urged anyone with information about the sale or supply of U4, or any illegal drugs, to contact gardaí at Anglesea St on 021 4522000 or 1800 666 111.

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