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Death fears after illegal drugs found in 'legal highs' heading for Lincoln shops

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: May 24, 2012

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Illegal drugs worth hundreds of thousands of pounds have been seized by police in Lincoln.

Now officers say they believe they are closing in on a city-based organised crime gang, which is understood to be operating across the globe.

Kilos of white powder which police say was destined to be sold as "legal highs" in city shops, have been recovered and confiscated.

Police say "legal highs" are bought by students and young people who believe the tag means they are safe.

But Detective Inspector Simon Lovett from Lincoln CID says it is only a matter of time before someone dies as a result of taking the drugs.

The powder is said to contain Class B drugs while other ingredients are untested and mixed by people with no scientific knowledge.

The drugs haul was found after cops swooped on houses and businesses across Lincoln.

Ten people were arrested in connection with the operation, which police say spreads to the Far East.

And users of the drugs have no idea of how they will be affected, as even narcotics experts who have carried out detailed tests on them cannot identify some of the ingredients.

DI Lovett said: "We believe these substances are coming from the Far East and because they have got "legal high" on them, people think it must be safe and clearly they are not.

"There's nothing scientific about these substances, it's like mixing concrete in large quantities. It's packaged to look like it's been through a process but it could contain any old chemicals."

The 'legal high' shops are not licensed so cannot be shut down. Any suspect substances are sent to Government labs for testing. It is only then that it can be classified and made illegal.

But the challenge for cops is that there is a constant stream of new "legal highs" hitting the market.

"We have had reports of people taking these drugs and getting a massively increased heart rate and if they have an underlying heart issue you never know what will happen," said DI Lovett.

"We will get a death at some point if something isn't done. People who are taking these substances are playing Russian Roulette."

Vikas Sodiwala, a consultant in emergency medicine at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, said: "In cases such as this, where patients have used these substances, symptoms could include sweating, chest pain and abdominal pain."

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  • TwistedMellon  |  June 13 2012, 3:11AM

    i can remember back in the 90s when an E was £15 & you were sorted all night and it was safe . not now days its all junk "Russian Roulette"

    Rate   18
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  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  May 24 2012, 7:48PM

    I forgot to mention my praise for Vikas Sodiwala. Not many people are expert enough to predict the side effects of unknown chemicals. I used to get a buzz from cross-country running, but often suffered sweating, chest pain and abdominal pain. Now I know why. Perhaps I should sue my school for exposing me to such danger.

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  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  May 24 2012, 7:43PM

    Not a great argument, vendetta2011, since exactly the same thing happens with products that have never been illegal. Wines from new vineyards in California and Australia contain far more alcohol than traditional European wines. Carmakers strive to produce ever faster, more powerful, more luxurious models. Weapons manufacturers are always looking for ways of killing more people more effectively. What drives people to make stronger variants is the search for new markets, not illegality.

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  • vendetta2011  |  May 24 2012, 4:19PM

    make things illegal and you make the MORE dangerous. pot turned into superskunk, E's morphed into 20 odd different varieties, crack and crystal meth only turned up in response to the 'war' on drugs even when you make alcohol illegal you get nock offs containing too much methonol. simple fact is if you want to make drugs safer and save lives then REGULATE them, anything else is just nannying by mini hitlers

    Rate   7
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  • formulafreddy  |  May 24 2012, 2:00PM

    @Roadscource 'Apart from alcohol, i really wouldnt consider such things as salt to be "mind or mood altering' Sugar is a carbohydrate which triggers the release of seratonin, which affects mood. Refined sugar and salt are both definitely quite addictive with long-term serious health implications.

    Rate   3
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  • TB78WHlNE  |  May 24 2012, 1:28PM

    "Of course, alcohol as a legal high kills far more all over the globe every day than most of these legal highs have ever killed in their existence..." In much the same way that Fords have killed far more people all over the globe than Ferraris. Doesn't mean that Ferraris are safe, though, does it?

    Rate   -6
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  • eatmygoal  |  May 24 2012, 1:25PM

    "alcohol as a legal high kills far more all over the globe every day than most of these legal highs have ever killed in their existence... think about it" In the same way that food does, let's ban that or use it as a reason to make illegal drugs legal, now!

    Rate   2
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  • Roadscource  |  May 24 2012, 1:14PM

    "there are people who use the accepted "legal highs" of alcohol, cigarettes, tea/coffee, sugar, salt and chocolate." Apart from alcohol, i really wouldnt consider such things as salt to be "mind or mood altering"....unless its some of that Far Eastern imported salt?

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  • SamArmstrong  |  May 24 2012, 12:32PM

    Maybe if us clever folk who choose not to purge hundreds every year on highly toxic alcohol were permitted to consume a certain natural, "remarkably non toxic" and safe herb (CANNABIS you fools!) then there'd be less of a need for these dangerous unregulated legal highs. Of course, alcohol as a legal high kills far more all over the globe every day than most of these legal highs have ever killed in their existence... think about it.

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  • formulafreddy  |  May 24 2012, 9:58AM

    All that's "being done" is more and more and more prohibition. With the usual disastrous and lethal results. The demand for mind and mood altering substances is a long-standing feature of human society. There are at least as many existing drug users in the UK as there are people who use the accepted "legal highs" of alcohol, cigarettes, tea/coffee, sugar, salt and chocolate. A better solution would be to regulate a "legal highs" market so that substances can meet defined standards of safety and be sold through licensed vendors with age restrictions. The alternative is more "Russian Roulette" with increasingly bizarre and dangerous chemicals being tried as the safer existing ones are banned.

    Rate   15
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