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Cheaper crack cocaine supplies in cities 'sees people travel from rural areas to buy the drug'

Tony Duffin of the Ana Liffey Drug Project believes a drop in crack cocaine cost is directly linked to increased supply.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

CRACK COCAINE USERS are travelling from rural county Kerry to Limerick to buy the drug because it is cheaper in the city, a drug addiction worker has said.

Speaking at the 24-hour online conference on Global Organised Crime Tony Duffin, CEO of Ana Liffey Drug Project revealed the findings of his organisation’s recent studies on the reach of crack cocaine in Ireland. 

He said his group, which has made contact with drug dealers and users in Dublin and elsewhere, has seen a drop in the price of crack cocaine.

Duffin said that despite travel and restrictions due to Covid-19, seizures of drugs by gardaí have actually increased. 

The drug outreach worker said that one key area has been underreported in recent weeks – the price of crack cocaine and how it points to signs of a huge supply on Irish streets.

Duffin has visited Bogota, Colombia in January 2020 where he found that a gram of cocaine on the streets was the equivalent of €9 while in Dublin, at the same time, a gram was €80.

“In Dublin, only a few years back, the price of a rock (of crack cocaine) was €50. More recently deals in Dublin City for crack cocaine, were recorded as being available for €20 for a rock or three rocks for 50 years,” he continued.

“Another report was for crack cocaine available for as little as €15 or two for €25 Generally the lower the price, the smaller the rock generally.

“Outside the capital prices can be even lower again, in July 2020, in the Midwest of Ireland it was reported that crack cocaine was available for as little as €10.

“Significantly, in Limerick heroin which has been sold for €20 a bag for as long as I can recall was also reduced to €10 for a small bag. So again, I’m just giving an example of how the markets can can change quite quickly,” he said. 

Tony Duffin Tony Duffin, CEO of Ana Liffey Drugs Project. Source: Ana Liffey Drugs Project/Facebook

Such is the demand for the cheaper product in Limerick that Duffin’s organisation has uncovered evidence that drug users are travelling 100kms from Tralee to purchase cheaper drugs. 

“It is €10 for a rock of crack deliberately. It is now a consistent price in Limerick however 100 kilometres away in Tralee, Co Kerry and in rural areas of Ireland, reportedly a rock costs €25,” he revealed. 

Duffin said it is that disparity in cost that is causing people to travel long distances from more rural areas to urban areas to purchase. 

The outreach worker said that one key takeaway from the experience of addicts during the pandemic was the positive impact of increased resources.

He said the increase in resourcing of services during the pandemic had moved addicts away from drug related crime and had inspired the people to look at courses and other ways to move away from dysfunctional lives.   

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The discussion at the conference was hosted by former Garda Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan.

It included security expert and former garda Sheelagh Brady, British decriminalisation advocate and recovering addict Fiona Gilbertson and Dave Liddell CEO of the Scottish Drugs Forum which is similar to Ireland’s Ana Liffey. 

Brady said that harm reduction must form part of the State’s response to drug crime and agreed with Fiona Gilbertson that there needs to be a redistribution of funding from policing to health and education. 

Liddell spoke at length about the Scottish experience with drugs which mirrored the Irish experience. He explained that the reduction in the purity of heroin had seen users moving from the drug to crack cocaine. 

He said many lives had been saved by Police Scotland officers in their use of a drug to reverse the effects of an overdose. 

He also spoke about the positive outcomes from the use of medications to deal with addictions in users – such as slow acting morphine to replace the use of heroin.

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