10 Nov 2017

Synthetic drug suspected in Hutt Valley death

5:38 pm on 10 November 2017

Police fear another person has died from the use of synthetic drugs.

A male smoking using a homemade bong

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

They have referred the death of a 36-year-old man in the Hutt Valley to the coroner.

They said the coroner's investigation was in its early stages and it was possible the death might not have been caused by a synthetic drug.

Kapiti-Mana area commander Inspector Tracey Thompson said police have raided a house in Cannons Creek in Porirua in relation to the supply of psychoactive substances.

As a precaution, the Armed Offenders Squad was present during the initial phase of the search.

A man and a woman were helping police with enquiries, she said, and the drug seized in the raid was not synthetic cannabis.

At a news conference in Porirua Police Station this afternoon, Ms Thompson said synthetic drugs were a community issue.

"We need our community to let us know what is going on there, to provide the information for us.

"We need to know from family members, from neighbors, from community members if they are seeing or hearing the use of synthetic drugs in their communities."

Ms Thompson said every batch of the drug was harmful and people were taking a risk with their lives.

Since 1 November, 2017, there have been 17 incidents related to synthetic drugs in the Kapiti-Mana Area, she said.

Latest death comes as fatalities spike

The latest incident comes after the chief coroner said in September that 20 deaths were under review that could have been caused by synthetic drugs.

They included the deaths of two men aged 22 and 37, and a 26-year-old woman, all from West Auckland, who died in separate incidents.

In addition, a 21-year-old Fielding man died and synthetic drugs were suspected.

Police are urging those using these drugs to stop immediately and contact their GP or the Alcohol Drug Helpline for help to stop.

They also want members of the public who might think someone has taken synthetic drugs to call 111 immediately and seek medical assistance.

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