Crystal meth heading for Scotland, says drugs chief
SCOTLAND'S elite crime fighting agency is preparing to tackle the impending arrival of the highly addictive drug methamphetamine on the streets.
The head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), Graeme Pearson, warned yesterday that the substance, which is as powerful as crack cocaine, could be heading for Scotland.
Delivering the SCDEA's annual report, Mr Pearson also said he did not share Chief Constable John Vine's recently voiced belief that making heroin available on the NHS would help. He believes there are only about 100 users whose lifestyles are chaotic enough to qualify for such a scheme.
Predicting the arrival of the deadly and highly addictive methamphetamine, he said: "I've certainly never been in the business of wanting to scare people. But I do think methamphetamine, which has affected many areas in England and Wales, and many countries outside the UK, is a present threat, which might arrive in Scotland.
"The difficulty with methamphetamine is that it doesn't take hi-tech lab facilities to produce. It can be produced in a house, a garage or a small industrial facility. It can be produced reasonably easily, but the circumstances of production are dangerous."
He said the materials used were highly volatile, prone to exploding and catching fire, and described the effects of the drug on users as "very horrendous".
Also known as crystal meth or "ice" - due to its crystalline appearance - methamphetamine is a highly powerful and addictive stimulant. In January this year it was reclassified in the UK from a Class B drug to a Class A one.
It can cause paranoia, psychosis and depression, while its physical effects include rapid rotting of the user's teeth.
Mr Pearson added: "What I am saying is 'If you do seek to be involved in the trade of methamphetamine, be aware I will turn every element of the agency in your direction'."
Tom Wood, chair of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drugs Action Teams, said it was a matter of time before the drug appears on Scotland's streets: "The threat is real. It's not a case of if it comes to Scotland, it's a case of when," said Mr Wood.
"The first sign of crystal meth factories being established is a rise in domestic fires and explosions. We do know of some examples of people using it in Scotland. At the moment they are few and far between but the SCDEA are right to alert people."
A spokesman for the Scottish Drugs Forum agreed the threat of methamphetamine had to be monitored, but added that the bigger issue was dealing with Scotland's 50,000 heroin users.
• Heroin with a street value of at least 12.5 million was seized during a raid on Blochairn Fruit Market in Glasgow's east end, police said yesterday. The 346lb (157kg) haul, made on Tuesday, is more than twice the total amount of heroin seized by the SCDEA in the whole of last year.
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