By Kyriacos Kyriacou-Nicosia
Two Cypriot men, aged 34 and 50, were remanded in custody for eight days on Wednesday in connection with trafficking 112 kilograms of mephedrone, a synthetic stimulant closely related to amphetamines, also known as “bath salts”, which was imported from India and was going to be re-exported to Britain. It is considered as the largest amount of synthetic drugs ever found by the island’s police force. The specific drug is known for its very strong effects to users, including hallucinations, panic attacks, and aggressive behavior. “Bath salts” was event connected with cannibalism incidences in the US.
From India to Cyprus
The drugs arrived at Larnaca airport from Mumbai via Dubai over the weekend. The drug squad was tipped off about the arrival on Monday. The mephadrone, declared illegal in Cyprus in 2010, was found in four plastic barrels. They had been shipped to a company based in Potamia with the 50-year-old suspect listed as the recipient.
The 34-year-old, from Livadhia, Larnaca, was arrested when he showed up at the airport to clear the shipment through customs. Upon him, he had €1,000 cash and the necessary documents to ship the cargo to the UK. Police told the court that the suspects are considered members of an international drugs trafficking ring.
The court heard that authorities will ask Interpol and Europol to assist in the investigation. According to DrugScope, mephedrone produces a similar experience to amphetamines, ecstasy or cocaine. It is a white, off-white or yellowish powder that is usually snorted, but can also be swallowed. It can also appear in pill or capsule form.
Opioid drops, cannabis increases
Meantime, a drop in opioid users and an increase in cannabis users has been recorded over the past few years in Cyprus by the Documentation and Monitoring Centre for Drugs (DMCD).
The increase in requests for treatment for cannabis is mainly attributed to the protocol of cooperation in place for sending new cannabis users up to the age of 24 for treatment, as well as Police interventions that aim at sending all drug users for treatment, irrespective of their age.
Speaking at the House of Representatives during the presentation of the European Drug Report 2014, prepared by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, head of the DMCD Monitoring Department, Neoclis Georgiades, said on Wednesday it appears that cannabis remains the most commonly used illegal substance.
He said that 12 drug-related deaths were recorded in Cyprus in 2013. Georgiades also noted that in 2012, cannabis was the first and heroin the second most used drug in Cyprus, adding that there are concerns regarding opioid replacements, such as oxycodone.
The European Drug Report 2014 says that in Cyprus 33 people attended treatment programmes for opioids, mainly oxycodone, apart from heroin.
Furthermore, only 2% of deaths in Cyrus were due to alcohol abuse, compared to 7.4% in Europe, while 377 persons requested treatment for alcohol abuse, most of whom were under the age of 40.