Crystal meth seizure sparks alarm

DRUG experts have expressed alarm at the first major seizure in Ireland of crystal meth, a highly addictive and destructive drug that has laid waste to many US communities.

Customs and gardaí intercepted 2.5kg of the drug, with an estimated street value of €250,000, at Dublin Airport.

“Crystal meth is one of those drugs that is ‘red flagged’, that everyone is keeping an eye on,” said Dr Des Corrigan, chairman of the National Advisory Committee of Drugs.

“It is well recognised it could get out of hand fairly quickly and become a significant problem rapidly, because of the nature of the drug,” he said. “Our antennae would twitch when there’s a seizure, large or small, to see if it’s the beginning of a trend.”

The haul was discovered when customs officers at Dublin Airport stopped a 39-year-old man from Lesotho, Africa. The drugs were concealed in the framework of two suitcases.

The only other big seizure of methamphetamine here was in powder form.

Dr Corrigan said the drug, also known as “ice” or “crank”, was “significantly worse” than cocaine. “This is due to the length of time it lasts: 10 times longer than cocaine. The typical length is 10 hours, with cocaine it’s around an hour.”

He said the effects were also significantly magnified.

“Hyper-stimulation, risk of paranoia and violence, toxic effects on the heart, and, unlike cocaine, there is neurotoxicity — nerve damage. Crystal methamphetamine is to amphetamine what crack is to cocaine.”

Fr Peter McVerry, who works with homeless people and drug addicts, said he had come across reports of it in the last 12 months.

“I have dealt with a couple of people on crystal meth. My information from drug users is it’s now widespread in Ballymun. The evidence suggested to me was that it was about to come into the country in a big way.

“It is far more destructive than any drug currently on the streets. Now is the time for the Government to take action, before the problem gets out of hand.”

In September 2009, gardaí in Tralee, Co Kerry, made three seizures of crystal meth, including one haul worth €7,500.

In July 2008, gardaí and Customs seized almost 5kg of powder methamphetamine in Birr, Co Offaly.

- HSE drugs helpline: 1800 459459; www.drugs.ie

Drug effects

CRYSTAL METH can be smoked, injected, snorted or swallowed. Often described as the most destructive drug, it increases aggression and has toxic effects on the heart and nerves, and has led to huge increase in petty and serious crime.


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