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Concern at demand-led rise in cocaine purity

Cocaine with a purity of almost 100% is being sold on the streets of Gibraltar as dealers respond to demands from local users for ‘high quality’ drugs, police have warned.

The high purity means the Class A drug is therefore more addictive and dangerous.

And as law enforcement agencies work to stem the availability of drugs, dealers have adopted increasingly creative tactics including concealing the illicit substances within children’s nappies.

The rise in purity is illustrated in a series of cases which have come before Gibraltar’s courts recently, including one involving a well-known drug dealer who was caught by police with cocaine of 95% purity.

In two other separate recent cases, two local men were found in possession of cocaine with a purity of between 80 and 88%.
Police have two theories as to why cocaine has become available locally at such high purity, backed by intelligence and generally being ‘alive’ to the drug scene, Superintendent Ian McGrail of the Royal Gibraltar Police said in an interview with the Chronicle.

“In the first instance the cocaine comes from across the border and that indicates that there’s a lot of it available straight from original source,” Mr McGrail said.

The drug has therefore not gone through the series of cuttings one would expect as it makes its way from its original source and into the hands of your average street dealer.

“If a drug dealer from the coast comes and purchases drugs and takes them up to his own patch the chances are that he would adulterate that drug and cut it down for increased profits.”

“That used to be the case a lot but now our strongest theory is that the consumers are demanding ‘quality drugs’ in the negative sense because it gives them the best effects.”

“The dealer is not going to jeopardise his clients by selling an ‘inferior product’ and consumers tend to go for the best.”

Gibraltar is not alone in this trend and police in the UK were forced to issue a warning earlier this year following a dramatic rise in the purity of cocaine available there, with street samples up to 80% or 90% pure.

“It’s dangerous to take drugs full stop,” Mr McGrail underscored.

“Yes, the fact that it’s a more potent drug means it’s going to have more consequences but equally consuming drugs of lesser purity may also bring complications because cutting agents may not be agreeing with the body of the user in the same way.”


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