GARDAI have seized over €1.2 million worth of drugs from criminal groups in the city and county so far this year.
More than half of all seizures (55 per cent) were for cocaine, a drug that has swamped Limerick and beyond in recent months, Limerick Post sources said.
Between January and June this year Limerick Gardaí conducted 195 search warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act which yielded:
* €686,825 Cocaine
* €382,355 Cannabis
* €86,675 Heroin
* €40,035 Amphetamine
* €18,606 Alprazolam
* €15,240 Crack Cocaine
* €8,560 MDMA
* €455 Cannabis Resin
* €355 Acid
* €30 Ketamine
Crack cocaine use in Limerick has risen significantly over the last 12 months, and local addiction treatment service Ana Liffey is now distributing ‘crack pipes’ in a bid to stop addicts using unhygienic tools.
“People can buy a rock of ‘crack’ (in Limerick) for €15, and a bag of heroin for €15, which is certainly less than what it was in previous years,” explained Tony Duffin, Chief Executive, Ana Liffey.
“Cocaine-use across all sectors of society is on the increase,” explained Julie McKenna, a Limerick drug detox manager with NOVAS.
“People going to their debs years ago were thinking of the hair, the dress, the nails, the tan and the handbag – Now they are factoring in the price of cocaine; that they need a couple of bags of cocaine for the night,” McKenna added.
“We are back to trends pre the economic downturn of 2008, where it was as common to have a bag of ‘coke’ in your handbag as it was to have 20 cigarette.”
As previously revealed in the Limerick Post, “cocaine supermarkets” are operating out of houses identified by gardai in the city environs.
Duffin said they have seen a trend of a cohort of people in Limerick purchasing “crack cocaine and heroin together – known as a Speedball – and they’ll inject that.”
This, along with mixing alcohol and cocaine, create obvious additional risks.
Mixing alcohol and cocaine powder “metabolises in the body to create another drug called cocaethylene, which is more harmful than either (cocaine or alcohol)”.
Northside Sinn Féin TD, Maurice Quinlivan, who is also Director of the Mid West Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce, said: “Cocaine is all over the place, it’s everywhere. We have never seen anything like it.”
“Gardai are doing the best job they can do with the recourses they have,” he added.
Head of the Limerick Garda Division, Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche, had increased resources in the Divisional Drugs Unit (DDU) last year, which has yielded significant results in gardai removing deadly drugs from the streets.