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Police boss warns of arrival of ‘deadly’ new street drug

15 May 2024 3 minute read
Police and crime commisioner North Wales Andy Dunbobbin . Picture Mandy Jones

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

A Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has issued a warning about a deadly new street drug that is spreading across Wales

Andy Dunbobbin, who was re-elected as PCC for North Wales’ earlier this month, says he has grave concerns about new synthetic opioids already on the streets of south Wales, which he expects to arrive in his region sooner rather than later.

During an exclusive interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Dunbobbin said police were worried about “nitazenes” arriving in the region.

Highly addictive

The class A drugs are considered “highly addictive and incredibly dangerous” and pose a higher risk of accidental overdose – being much stronger than heroin.

As with fentanyl, the drugs can be mixed and sold with other street drugs unknown to the user, increasing the risk of overdose or adverse reaction even further.

“The drugs (coming into north Wales) can be quite varied,” he said.

“But we’ve also started to see in south Wales nitazenes, which you’d expect to come to north Wales.

“They are really, really potent, and the synthetic opioids market is something we are really focused on, making sure we can disrupt that and be aware of it.

“But these nitazenes can be deadly.

“They can be put in cocaine, and they (people will) take it, and it could result in somebody dying. We are very much aware of it coming into South Wales, and you would expect at some point it will come into North Wales.”

Neighbouring forces

Mr Dunbobbin revealed North Wales Police were working closely with neighbouring forces such as Cheshire, Merseyside, and West Mercia police.

He claimed joint operations between forces were successfully combating problems such as county lines and associated crimes such as cuckooing – the practice of drug dealers taking over a vulnerable person’s home and dealing out of the property.

The commissioner also said police were actively testing drugs to determine what was being sold on the streets.

He said: “Heroin is still a problem and the social use of people using cocaine as well.

“We had an operation in Gwynedd a few months ago where officers were going to a number of pubs and taking (drug-testing) swipes in the toilets.

“There has been some proactive work going on there tackling the issue.

“People make choices at a particular time for whatever reason, and it might not be the best choice they make, but they make the choice, and I’d rather be looking at it from (the point of view of) trying to educate them about the dangers.”

Yesterday (14 May) The UK Government confirmed plans to make six synthetic opioids illegal so they will be classified as class A drugs.

It means anyone found with the drugs could face up to seven years in jail, an unlimited fine, or both – while dealers could be handed a life sentence and/or a fine.

The move follows advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and

The synthetic opioids which are set to be made class A drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, are: 2-Methyl-AP-237; AP-237; para-methyl-AP-237; AP-238; Azaprocin and para-nitroazaprocin.

The Government has also accepted advice to add a generic definition for nitazenes to laws which means new substances of this kind will automatically be considered as class A drugs.

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