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Warning issued over 'Russian Roulette' tablets in Belfast

The green-coloured tablets are understood to have a logo of a crown or castle on them.

Image: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated 16.02

THE PSNI HAVE issued a safety warning to the public following a spate of unexplained and sudden deaths over the past few weeks.

Police have investigated the deaths of eight men and women in their 20s and 30s across Belfast and the north-west. One line of inquiry has linked the tragedies with a batch of dangerous drugs being sold across the city.

In a statement, detectives warned against green-coloured tablets with a logo of a crown or castle on them. It is understood the drug is similar to ecstasy.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, local pastor Paul Burns described the pills as “Russian Roulette” tablets, claiming the sellers are carrying out murder on the streets of Belfast.

He said that young people drawn to sampling illegal substances are suffering under the current economic climate and in search of a “high” because of low self-esteem, unemployment and feelings of abandonment.

One of the victims is believed to be a young mother-of-two but investigating officers await the results of the toxicology report in that case.

One of the other deceased, Gareth Morrison, was remembered this morning by Pastor Burns as a “very social, gentle guy” who would have lent a helping hand to anyone who asked.

Commenting on the recent unexplained deaths in the greater Belfast and North West areas, Chief Constable Matt Baggott said: “Firstly, I would like to express my sympathies to the families of these eight young adults who have lost their lives.

“While it would be premature to draw connections between these tragic deaths, a thorough investigation is being carried out and we will await the results of the forensic tests. No matter what the outcome of the forensic analysis shows, the PSNI is committed to tackling the scourge of drugs and we are taking robust measures to protect communities.”

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Over the past 12 months, almost 2,800 people were arrested by the PSNI and held to account for drugs offences. Those convictions related to more than 4,400 drug seizures valued at £10.2 million.

Chief Constable Baggott called on the public to help in the fight against drugs.

“But we also need more help – we need people to come forward and tell us what they know about illegal drugs being sold or distributed. Over the next few weeks, we want to keep our efforts focussed on tackling drugs. I would look to politicians and community leaders to help us ensure policing resources are not distracted dealing with unnecessary disorder on our streets.”

First published 14.15

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