WORRY OVER NEW DESIGNER DRUGS
Customs Officials Are On Alert For A New Wave Of Imported Designer Drugs.
International law enforcement agencies have told their New Zealand counterparts that amphetamine analogues are becoming increasingly popular.
Experts say analogues have a similar effect on the mind and body to existing amphetamines, which can act as stimulants or affect perception, but have an altered chemical composition.
The war on trafficking has stepped up in recent years as international syndicates use New Zealand as a transit point or to sell a growing range of drugs.
Customs drugs investigations manager Simon Williamson said his office had received information from "sister agencies" overseas on emerging substances.
"The new wave of designer drugs, amphetamine analogues - all class-C controlled drugs - are believed to be on their way to New Zealand," he said.
More designer drugs were emerging as dealers and syndicates focused on ways of beating current laws, for example by developing drugs with the essential characteristics of the original but with new chemicals not included in current drug-classification laws.
"There are people out there who are making it their business to circumvent legislative provisions throughout the world. They are only thinking about profiting," Williamson said.
If New Zealand authorities found an analogue drug not covered by current classifications, the Government could be asked to change existing rules.
Ecstasy was an example of a drug that was added to New Zealand's schedule of prohibited substances when it appeared in 1998.
Environmental Science and Research (ESR) forensic programme manager Dr Keith Bedford said the chemical make-up of amphetamines meant they could be easily modified.
Most of the substances appeared in the United States or Europe before hitting New Zealand, Bedford said. "Because of this, we can often identify a new drug or substance quite quickly."
Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Potaka, of police national headquarters, said police were concerned about the rise of amphetamine analogues. Police worked closely with the Customs Department to identify new drugs and prosecute any offenders.