Auckland deaths spark synthetic drug warning

The death of three people in West Auckland has lead police and the Chief Coroner to reinforced their previous warning to communities about the dangerous consequences of using synthetic drugs.

Two men aged 22 and 37, and a 26-year-old woman, all from West Auckland, died in separate incidents and the Coroner is investigating whether synthetic drugs were a possible cause of death.

This is not just a problem in Auckland, this is affecting families and whanau across New Zealand.

There was also a recent death of a 21-year-old Fielding man where there is a possibility synthetic drugs were involved.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard is calling on the community to tell Police who is 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.

"Those taking it, are taking a huge risk because you do not know where it has come from, or the level of dosage.”

Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall says there had 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.

“Each case is a tragedy for the family and friends of those left behind.

"While many deaths have occurred in Auckland, a number of cases in other parts of New Zealand have also been reported to Coronial Services,” says Judge Marshall.

“Using any illicit drug carries risks, and in the case of synthetic drugs, they are known to cause potentially fatal seizures.

"I urge anyone considering using this drug not to do so, and for those who are, to reach out to services that might assist them.”

Detective Inspector Beard says police have made a significant number of seizures and arrests across New Zealand and are focused on arresting those responsible for the sale and supply of this dangerous drug.

If you have any information that can assist Police in catching these offenders, please contact your local Police Station or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

"I can assure that you information will be treated seriously.

"If you have any concerns about the health of someone who has consumed synthetic drugs, call 111 and ask for an ambulance."


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