Is Crystal Meth Our New Drug Scourge? in the States, It Is the 'White Trash' Drug Which Ruins Lives. Here, Crystal Meth Is Almost Unknown but This Week a Grandmother Was Jailed for Supply of the Drug Which Can Be Made from Cough Medicine. Is the Curse of 'Ice' about to Hit These Shores?

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), July 25, 2010 | Go to article overview

Is Crystal Meth Our New Drug Scourge? in the States, It Is the 'White Trash' Drug Which Ruins Lives. Here, Crystal Meth Is Almost Unknown but This Week a Grandmother Was Jailed for Supply of the Drug Which Can Be Made from Cough Medicine. Is the Curse of 'Ice' about to Hit These Shores?


Byline: by Larissa Nolan CRIME CORRESPONDENT

IN ONE picture, she is fit, tanned and attractive. Posing for a charity calendar, US law student Kumari Fulbright is the very image of good health. In the other, the contorted, almost recognisable face of the same woman, stares at the photographer with a look of unmistakable pain. The hollowed cheeks, the scaly skin, the rotten teeth - all hallmarks of abuse of the most addictive and dangerous drug in the world, crystal meth.

The shocking photos - released by US police after Fulbright's arrest in early 2008 for kidnapping and torturing her boyfriend while high - serve as a grave public health warning, depicting before and after pictures of a meth user. In just a year or two, this addict had turned into a barely living corpse. It was photographic evidence of what psychiatrists say about the drug - meth is the beginning of the end. Once addicted, successful rehabilitation of users is extremely rare. Death is far more likely to be the end result. It is known as an American drug, slightly popular in central Europe, but certainly not in this country.

Until recently it was regarded as something of a niche drug: if it was being used here at all, so the theory went, its consumption was confined to a small minority of Eastern Europeans who have made Ireland their home. But Garda statistics seen by the Irish Mail on Sunday show it is on the increase. In 2007 there were just nine seizures of methylamphetamine, the chemical name for crystal meth, and they totalled some 41 grams.

But in 2008 there were 25 seizures of the drug, with 4,632 grams seized. In parallel to that climb, during those two years, seizures of cocaine and LSD actually fell (though seizures of soft drug cannabis resin jumped massively).

Now after the first conviction for crystal meth dealing in Ireland was handed down in a court last week, concern is mounting that the devastating drug will soon wreak havoc across towns and cities of Ireland, as it did with such speed in the US.

Grandmother Helena Ginova, a Czech republic national living in Tralee, Co. Kerry, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for possession of the drug for sale or supply.

The court heard how, after a Garda surveillance operation, a total of 183 deals of the deadly drug - which is more addictive than heroin - were found in Ziploc bags at the bottom of her wardrobe.

Bizarrely, hers was only the most recent seizure of the drug in Kerry. Prior to her arrest, in a period of 18 months three seizures of the drug took place in Kerry, two in Tralee and one in a tiny village outside Killarney.

In 2008, gardai seized six kilos of material containing the drug in Offaly when they intercepted two cars being transported by lorry. In this case, it is believed that the drug was being brought in by a Lithuanian drugs gang which liaised with South African criminals whose members flew the drugs to Europe, where they were then picked up by the gang.

The conviction of Helena Ginova follows a series of warnings on the issue. Last October a report by Europol, the European Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA) said crystal meth from Lithuania was being introduced into the Irish market by criminals from the Baltic countries. Following the Offaly seizure, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy issued a chilling warning about the dangers of crystal meth, describing it as a 'scourge' he was intent on driving out of Ireland.

He said: 'I want to ensure this does not come into the country. It is a highly addictive drug and the mortality rate amongst addicts is very high.

'This is more addictive than heroin and that is saying something.

'I want to plead and to ask the public, nurses, doctors, teachers... anybody who had information, to report it, to ensure this scourge of a drug doesn't come into the jurisdiction.' He vowed not to let the substance get a foothold on the Irish market. …

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Is Crystal Meth Our New Drug Scourge? in the States, It Is the 'White Trash' Drug Which Ruins Lives. Here, Crystal Meth Is Almost Unknown but This Week a Grandmother Was Jailed for Supply of the Drug Which Can Be Made from Cough Medicine. Is the Curse of 'Ice' about to Hit These Shores?
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