Dealers now peddling prescription drugs

Wed, May 23, 2012, 01:00

THE ILLICIT sale of prescription drugs in Dublin’s city centre has become a “far more significant problem” than the sale of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy or cannabis combined, the Lord Mayor has warned.

Andrew Montague, who was speaking at an event to publicise a new Crimestoppers confidential phone line to stop drug dealing, said there had been about 1,500 drug arrests in the city centre between September and December last year.

“Only about 60 of these were for selling controlled drugs. The rest were for selling so-called legal drugs, prescription drugs.

“The problem is that the gardaí can’t prosecute someone for possessing these drugs. So work is going on with the Irish Medicines Board and the Department of Health with a view to strengthening Garda powers, to enable them to prosecute.”

Prescription drugs were being sold, particularly around Abbey Street and streets adjacent to O’Connell Street, and were mainly from the Valium family, he said, including benzodiazepine, tetrazepam and diazepam.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan confirmed that the sale of “medicines that are legitimate” was a “continuing difficulty” for the force.

“We are working with the Irish Medicines Board to find ways and means to combat this particular trait. We are very conscious of course that people who are using drugs will try and get their hands on any drugs they can, including prescription drugs.”

A spokeswoman confirmed that the board was aware of the issues raised. She said there was full co-operation between it and the Garda on the “investigation of offences under the Irish Medicines Board Acts 1995-2006”.

Asked where dealers were getting the pharmaceutical drugs, Mr Montague said many were available over-the-counter in continental Europe and were being brought back, and that people were stealing them from legitimate users.

The Crimestoppers line is a free-phone number, manned by gardaí and is confidential. It is 1800-250025.