A warning has been issued after a batch of ‘Punisher’ ecstasy pills in Manchester were found to be up to five times stronger than the normal dose.
The pills were found at ‘multiple’ nightlife venues across Greater Manchester.
Scientists have warned that the drugs, which contain up to 477mg of MDMA per tablet, will ‘increase risk of death’.
The ‘Punisher’ pills are thicker in appearance than normal ecstasy pills, and contain between four and five times more MDMA.
They are embossed with the skull of Marvel anti-hero The Punisher.
Researchers from MANDRAKE (Manchester Drug Analysis and Knowledge Exchange), based at Manchester Metropolitan University, posted the warning over the weekend.
They wrote: “WARNING! 12/11/2021. Multiple Blue “Punisher” embossed “thicker” tablets (LHS) confirmed by @MANDRAKE_LAB, to contain #MDMA (397 – 477 mg/tab) = to 4-5x the common oral dose. Even ½ of these pills is v. high dose. High dose will not increase effect but increases risk of death.”
MANDRAKE has been partnering with Greater Manchester Police to ‘understand the progression of psychoactive substances that are in circulation on the illegal drugs market’.
The huge club venue at Depot Mayfield also works with W.E.L.Safe to provide confidential and non-judgemental advice on drugs, alcohol and other issues.
Speaking to Vice, Fiona Measham, director at drug testing NGO The Loop, said: “It’s likely to be amongst the highest in the world.”
She added that she expects the super-strength, thicker pills were made by mistake.
She said: “The customer doesn’t usually know the strength of ecstasy pills bought on illicit markets and reagent tests can’t help with that. So their life is in danger because of the absence of one simple fact: the MDMA content of the pill they bought.
“If a customer uses a drug checking service and finds out the strength of a pill is 477mg, then they can simply divide it into quarters and they have 4 average adult doses of MDMA, with no more risk than any other 120 mg pill.
“Knowledge is power, but lack of information on strength can transform a pill from benign to deadly.”
Speaking back in July, when nightclubs reopened, MANDRAKE’s director Dr Oliver Sutcliffe said: “Our team of scientists are extremely proud to be both a key part of the Greater Manchester Drugs Early Warning System and the GMP night time economy plan as COVID restrictions are lifted.
“We hope that our laboratory, which will be working closely with partner organisations in all ten Greater Manchester boroughs, will be able to rapidly provide robust data to help improve drug awareness amongst our communities, and enhance and inform harm reduction schemes across the city region.”
Featured Image: Unsplash / MANDRAKE
Police arrest four men and shut down ‘incredibly dangerous’ cannabis farm in Salford
Police have shut down a suspected cannabis farm in Salford today, arresting four men.
Officers swooped on the property on Arthur Street in Swinton after finding evidence that the house was being used to grow cannabis plants.
The farm has been described as ‘incredibly dangerous’ to other occupants in the area.
Three rooms in the house were full of plants growing, with a huge amount of wiring surrounding them that posed a fire hazard.
The four men detained by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Salford Neighbourhood Team were subsequently arrested on suspicion of involvement in the production and supply of cannabis and remain in police custody for questioning.
Sergeant Peter MacFarlane said: “Locating a cannabis farm is a great result for the team who are gathering intelligence and working hard to crackdown on drug-related crime across Salford.
“Farms of this nature are also incredibly dangerous to other occupants in the area. The building itself is still being made safe due to the amount of wiring around the plants. Criminals running these types of enterprises have no regard for public safety and in these conditions, an electrical fault from bad wiring could easily start a fire and endanger lives.
“The arrests and seizures then go someway towards disrupting the supply of illegal drugs and the criminality that comes with it, and will also make our communities safer.
“This operation was intelligence led and a huge part of our intelligence comes from members of the public sharing information with us. If you have suspicions about a crime taking place please report it so we can take positive action and bring those responsible to justice.”
You can make a report by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also report via the LiveChat function on GMP’s website: www.gmp.police.uk
Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Featured image: GMP
‘Groundbreaking’ new app to help get homeless people into work launches in Manchester
Homeless families across Manchester are set to benefit from a “groundbreaking” new service that gives them access to employment support.
With the ultimate aim of helping homeless people move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes, Manchester City Council has announced a new pilot partnership with Beam – a social enterprise that fundraises on behalf of homeless people and connects them with a supportive online community.
Through Beam’s “innovative” app-based platform, homeless people can raise money for items that often end up being financial obstacles to them moving into a permanent home, whether than be funding equipment or training to help them secure stable and financially-viable employment, or towards a rental deposit, moving van, or other homeware essentials, and everything in between.
Donations come from people in the local community, and are shared out equally between participants, so that everyone reaches their fundraising target within an average of 17 days.
Having helped more than 1,300 homeless people “achieve their goals” since being founded in 2017, Beam isn’t just about funding, as it also has a team of caseworkers who provide one-to-one help with employment to those in need.
The caseworkers also lend a hand with searching for properties online, communicating with landlords, and booking house viewings, while Beam also works with a network of vetted landlords to help people find a home
The initiative also provides further support for at least six months after moving.
Over the next year, Manchester City Council says its pilot partnership with Beam will initially support 25 families who are living in temporary accommodation in the region, and move them into their own private rental homes.
Residents can be referred to the scheme by the Council’s housing teams, as well as other local services, and each person is assigned a caseworker from Beam, who then supports them on their journey into stable housing.
“No one chooses homelessness voluntarily,” admitted Councillor Joanna Midgley, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council.
“And when it happens, it can be devastating, which is why we are looking at a range of solutions to help people secure affordable and decent homes in Manchester.
“Our new partnership with Beam is an innovative approach to improve people’s life chances, supporting them, where possible, into sustainable jobs allowing them to move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes.