DRUGS squad police have seized kilos of a so-called ‘legal high’ likened to crystal methamphetamine and believed to be responsible for putting two people in hospital following psychotic episodes.
Wiltshire Police’s Dedicated Crime Team (DCT) stopped a 36-year-old man in Old Town on Tuesday and found him with a kilogram of white powder, a suspected cathinone-compound nicknamed ‘Crystal’ due to similarities with the effects of the class-A drug.
The man, who had been threatening to self-harm, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a class-B drug and was taken to Gablecross police station for questioning before being bailed.
A subsequent seizure in Old Town yesterday of a further couple of kilos means officers believe they have recovered most of the product destined for Swindon, although with the substances available over the internet they have issued an urgent warning not to take the substances.
Sergeant Scott Har-greave, who heads up the force’s drugs team, said: “People are playing Russian Roulette with their lives by taking these unknown substances because they have no idea what’s in them.”
There have been three incidents involving individuals believed to have taken ‘Crystal’, including a 36-year-old man rescued by officers from the top of Fleming Way car park at 5.45am yesterday and a 28-year-old man being talked down from 100ft scaffolding outside Aspen House at 2am on Wednesday.
A third man, 26, was picked up by officers after experiencing hallucinations in Victoria Road at around 10pm on Wednesday.
Each of the men received medical treatment, while two of them were serious enough to be taken to Great Western Hospital.
The man who climbed Aspen House was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, while the man in Victoria Road was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and both have been released on bail.
The substance is likened to Crystal Meth as it caused hallucinations and euphoria but it also causes users to re-medicate constantly. This can cause users to stay awake for five or six days and can lead to severe psychosis and paranoia.
Sgt Hargreave added: “We are satisfied we have recovered the majority of the substance destined for Swindon but there may be other sources of it,” he said.
“The symptoms are severe paranoia –we’ve had people think they have tracking devices in their heads and thinking they are being chased by 30 individuals wanting to kill them.
“People who have taken these can become violent and there have been threats of violence to officers – members of the public should call emergency services if they come across someone in this state and approach with caution.”
- Anyone with information about illegal or legal drugs in Swindon is asked to contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
- THE risk to public health of so-called legal highs entering the drugs supply chain in Swindon is of concern to the local authority and Police and Crime Commissioner.
Reacting to the news of several incidents involving a powder nicknamed ‘Crystal’, Frances Mayes, senior public health manager at Swindon Council, said: “We are aware of reports that there is a substance in circulation in Swindon causing paranoia and reduced inhibitions, which can also lead to risk-taking behaviour.
“The council therefore reiterates its advice to the public not to take any such substances, as they pose significant health and safety risks.”
And the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, said: “I am very concerned about the recent incidents involving so-called legal highs. There seems to be a misguided belief that, because a substance is called ‘legal’, it must be safe.
“I know from the users I have talked to that these substances simply are not safe.
"We must get across the message that taking an untested substance, even though it is not presently a banned one, could cause you long-term damage or even death.”