The drug, which has the street nickname “Mandy”, may have caused the deaths of two men whose bodies were found in a cottage in Kinsale, Co Cork, last Sunday.
Gardaí know that a quantity of the brown powdered drug — which is a mixture of ecstasy and its chemical cousin PMMA — was sold to people in Cork City last weekend, and they are appealing to drug users not to take it, as doing so could be fatal.
Detectives are preparing a file for the DPP on four people who have been arrested in connection with the deaths of two 22-year-old friends in Kinsale.
The three men and a woman have been released without charge and more arrests are possible.
Gardaí are hoping to receive toxicology results within days from the bodies of Michael Coleman and Liam Coffey, who were both from Co Waterford.
The pair were found dead by Mr Coleman’s girlfriend, Ciara Drummey.
Supt Eddie McEoin told a media briefing at Bandon Garda station yesterday that gardaí are putting the same resources into the case as if they were dealing with a murder investigation, which he stressed it is not.
The drug, which is being sold as powdered ecstasy, has a street value of €1,500 per ounce.
He said users could lick it, inhale it, or roll it in cigarette paper in order to swallow it.
“We are treating this case very seriously,” said Supt MacEoin. “This is a major investigation and we’re continuing to investigate the supply line of these drugs.”
He said gardaí from the Cork West and Cork City Garda Divisions were working on the case alongside national units of An Garda Síochána.
“Our main aim is to get this drug off the streets as soon as possible,” said Supt McEoin. “It’s relatively new in Ireland, but it has caused a number of deaths in Europe. We’re appealing to people who have it not to use it. People are not aware of the danger it poses.”
Supt McEoin said that ecstasy and PMMA could both be dangerous in their own right, “but when mixed have a far higher toxicity”.
He added that people using the mixture with alcohol faced increased risk of death.
The powdered drug raises body temperature and can lead to heart attacks.
“We’re not sure how much of the drug is out there, but we do know there were a number of sales of it over the weekend,” he said.
“These sales took place in the city.”
Supt MacEoin said it was not clear if the drug was being manufactured in this country, or imported.
There have been some reports that it can be purchased from the internet.
* He appealed to anybody who had the drug or any relevant information on it to contact Bandon Garda station on 023 885 2200, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or their local garda station.
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