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Opium seized for the first time as harder drugs reemerge in Cork

OPIUM has been seized for the first time in Cork in recent days, as gardaí are also seeing an increase in cocaine and ecstasy.

The seizure of opium was made in the city centre and is one of very few seizures of the drug to be made in Ireland. Opium, like its derivative heroin, is very addictive and is popular in some countries.

However, it is rare in Ireland.

Gardai have noticed an increase in cocaine being seized in Cork, and the rise in its popularity again is being linked to the rise in the economy. And a source said: "The harder drugs are on the rise."

Among the seizures of cocaine to date this year was one with an estimated value of €45,000 on MacCurtain Street in August after a man was seen acting suspiciously by gardaí.

Although gardaí will not yet release figures for the number of seizures to date this year, there has been an increase according to figures from Revenue showing seizures by Customs.

A spokeswoman said: "Revenue made 100 cocaine seizures in the 9 months January-September 2018. The seizures contained almost 85 kilos in total with an estimated value in excess of €5.93 million."

In the 12 months of last year, there were 136 seizures of cocaine and heroin, totalling €2.23 million.

The spokeswoman said it was not possible to get a breakdown of figures for Cork county.

Gardai sources said that there have also been seizures of ecstasy powder, and one seizure of crystal meth.

They believe the arrival of opium and crystal meth in Cork is because of increased international travel.

Crystal meth is a white odourless and bitter-tasting powder which can be smoked, injected, snorted or taken orally.

It is regarded as being as serious as heroin, which is already rampant here.

Crystal meth has been made famous through the hit TV show Breaking Bad.

It causes severe side effects, including rotting teeth, and causing users to scratch their skin intensely.

Users can become extremely violent and agitated and prolonged use of the drug can lead to death.

It affects the central nervous system and can cause serious physical and psychological harm.