Ban on headshops has not stopped demand for drugs they sold
Drug users and smugglers using postal service, internet to run illegal trade
Sniffer dogs are used to check large quantities of mail. Photograph: Eric Luke
Many of those seeking to smuggle illegal synthetic drugs into the State are avoiding detection by addressing the parcels to locations they have no connection with.
Some are empty commercial or residential properties smugglers have access to; others are apartments that share communal mailbox areas. A newly arrived parcel could be taken from a mailbox before the owner of that box even knew it had arrived.
Because of the frequency with which such parcels are now arriving into the State, customs officers and courier firms are become more adept at spotting the contraband.
“A lot of these parcels come from the same sites and they are packed the same way, so you get better at spotting them after a while,” said one source.
“You could buy something for a few hundred euros over the internet and sell it for tens of thousands.”
Sniffer dogs are also used to check large quantities of mail.
The products, which are bought online from websites outside the State, include:
Methamphetamine: Use can lead to addiction, psychological issues and physical problems including heart damage. It increases alertness and energy levels and leads to euphoria, enhanced libido and self-confidence. Last year there were 15 seizures of the drug in items of mail entering the State, and five this year to the end of May. This followed one seizure in 2011 and none in 2010.
Methylone: This was sold in head shops under the name ‘Explosion’. It is a stimulant like amphetamine but was sold as “room odouriser”. There was one seizure of it last year from the parcel mail system, a consignment of 5kg.
Naphyrone: Another stimulant, it was sold in head shops as “pond cleaner”, often under the name NRG-1. There was one seizure of the drug last year; a 3kg consignment suggesting the involvement of organised drugs smugglers.
Pyrovalerone: Developed to treat lethargy and chronic fatigue and to suppress appetite, the drug has been a popular recreational stimulant for many years.
Highly addictive, its side-effects include anxiety and depression, as well as anorexia. There were five seizures of the drug last year, at a total weight of 21kg – this is the largest amount of any of the synthetic drug types used last year.