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DRUGS

Bilbao health authority in hot water over cocaine sniffing ‘kit’

Authorities in Bilbao are under fire for distributing advice on how to safely snort cocaine.

Bilbao health authority in hot water over cocaine sniffing 'kit'
Photo: Dmytro_z/Depositphotos

Plastic cards the size of credit cards — a tool of choice for cocaine users — were handed out by the health department in the northern city of Bilbao.

They bore messages such as: “Cut your line properly… If it is not properly cut, you could damage your nostrils”.

The cards were distributed to people singled out as users or potential users during week-long festivities last month, a spokesman for the department told AFP.

“We didn't hand them out to just anyone,” he said, adding that each recipient was warned about the dangers of drugs.   

News of the controversial campaign emerged this week, sparking criticism from the conservative Popular Party in Bilbao.   

The party said it was “real nonsense to hand out a kind of consumption 'kit' with such a flippant and frivolous message.”   

The city council's health chief, Yolanda Diez, said the advice simply sought to reduce the risks associated with taking cocaine.    

A health service spokesman told AFP that around a hundred leaflets had been distributed.

Spain has the highest rate of cocaine consumption in Europe after Britain, according to the EU's 2017 European Drug Report.   

The latest figures, compiled for 2015, found 9.1 percent of Spaniards aged 15-64 had used cocaine in their lifetime. Within Europe, only Britain posted a higher rate, at 9.7 percent.

READ MORE: Spanish police seize 5.5 tonnes of cocaine in ‘one of biggest busts’ ever

DRUGS

Spanish police make ‘biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs’

Spanish police said Friday they had seized a record 827,000 ecstasy tablets as well as other narcotics in what they called "the biggest ever seizure of synthetic drugs" in Spain.

Spanish police make 'biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs'
Police claim the seizure is the biggest in Spanish history. Photo: Guardia Civil and the National Police
In a joint operation, the Guardia Civil and the National Police smashed “the main international criminal organisation behind the production and supply of most of the synthetic drugs in Spain”, they said in a joint statement.
   
Synthetic drugs are manufactured using man-made chemicals rather than natural ingredients.
   
Eleven people were arrested on charges of drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organisation, including the organisation's Dutch boss.
 
   
As well as the ecstasy tabs, police also seized 76 kilos (167 pounds) of speed, 39.5 kilos of crystal meth and 217 litres of liquid amphetamine with which they could have produced 738.5 kilos of speed.
   
They also impounded almost 400 kilos of hashish and marijuana which they were to have exported to The Netherlands to pay for the purchase of the necessary substances to manufacture the drugs at two labs in Barcelona.
   
The organisation included traffickers from Spain, The Netherlands, Romania, Colombia and Italy and had bases in Barcelona, the southern city of Malaga and the island of Ibiza, all of which are known for having a vibrant nightlife and many dance clubs.
   
Although Spain is considered one of the main drug gateways to Europe, seizures of synthetic narcotics are uncommon as most traffickers usually deal in cannabis and cocaine.
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