20 deaths linked to synthetic drugs: Police

Police believe around 20 people may have died in New Zealand from using synthetic drugs.

Police and the Chief Coroner have today reinforced their previous warning to communities about the dangerous consequences of using synthetic drugs.

It comes following the recent deaths of two men aged 22 and 37, and a 26-year-old woman, all from West Auckland, who died in separate incidents, which the Coroner is investigating as to whether synthetic drugs were a possible cause.

Police say it is a nationwide problem and are also looking at the recent death of a 21-year-old Feilding man where synthetic drugs may have been involved.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said people needed to tell police who was selling and manufacturing these drugs.

"We need your help to catch these offenders and to hold them to account."

"You may have noticed that we are not calling it synthetic cannabis.

"It is not cannabis. The majority of our ESR testing have found the dangerous chemical AMB-Fubinaca.

"I want to be very clear that we have been open and transparent about our testing, this is what ESR is finding in the drugs we have seized. It is a dangerous drug that we know is a synthetic compound usually manufactured overseas.''

Dert Insp Beard says police have made a significant number of seizures and arrests across the country and are focused on arresting those responsible for the sale and supply of the dangerous drug.

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall says there have been a number of deaths potentially related to the use of synthetic drugs since a public warning was issued in July.

The Office of the Chief Coroner has around 20 cases under review where synthetic drugs are a possible cause of death.

Some cases that were initially on the list have been removed when it became clear from the preliminary post-mortem, toxicology results or scene investigation that synthetic drugs were not the probable cause of death.

 

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