Police confirm synthetic drug causing deaths – In the News

Police have confirmed the dangerous chemical AMB-FUBINACA is present in synthetic drugs linked to 20 deaths in the past few months.

In a statement on Thursday, police and the Chief Coroner said the majority of ESR testing had found the chemical AMB-FUBINACA, which has been linked to users being in a ‘zombie-like’ state in the US.

There are currently 20 deaths under review by the Office of the Chief Coroner, where synthetic drugs are a possible cause of death. ESR chief forensic chemistry manager Kevan Walsh told Radio NZ that an investigation was ongoing to determine what the link was between synthetic drugs and the surge of fatalities over recent months.

Walsh said ESR was testing both the drugs and post-mortem toxicology to look for what drugs were present. “Though our laboratory…the drug that’s been identified as AMB-FUBINACA is certainly by far the most common one that we’re seeing.” He said information from overseas showed the drug had “quite serious impacts on people’s health”.

He said AMB-FUBINACA was a complex molecule, synthesised in a laboratory, “this is not something that people will be synthesising in their back yard or whatever, it’s almost certainly manufactured overseas and smuggled into New Zealand”.

He said comparing AMB-FUBINACA to THC found in cannabis, on a per-weight basis, it would be 85 times more potent than THC. “People are treating it as if it is a traditional cannabis and that’s a big mistake to make because the effects of this drug are much much greater than those from cannabis.”

The police statement was covered by local media including:

Stuff.co.nz: The ‘ultrapotent’, ‘zombie’ drug AMB-FUBINACA has come to town
Radio NZ: Twenty deaths linked to synthetic drug use
TVNZ: Synthetic drugs may be linked to the deaths of 20 people in New Zealand
Radio NZ: Dangerous chemical in synthetic drugs deaths – revealed
Newshub: Synthetic ‘zombie’ drug contains ‘dangerous chemical’, police warn