The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) yesterday explained some of the country's new drug trends:
They have become more popular in the mainstream and in prisons. "The trend in the prisons is more towards the American-type environment with keeping fit and tattooing which has developed over a few years," said Kenny Simpson, drugs expert at the SCDEA. "Steroids are very small and can be smuggled in and there is a demand for them in terms of body-building for the prisoners to bulk out. 'Roid rage' is spoken about and documented. The prison service share new drug trends with us. Steroids are always an issue for us. Serious and organised crime groups are into the gyms and use them as gang huts. Steroid use among them is relatively common."
Police said they are in discussions with officials about ways to tackle the availability of equipment and illicit substances on the internet. Gordon Meldrum, director-general of the SCDEA, said: "It is one of the biggest challenges we face. Whether it is the ability to buy over the internet, the equipment to put together homemade cannabis cultivation or your ability to sit at home using your own credit or debit cards to procure online new drugs which you might get delivered 24 hours later. The ability for us to interrupt that in a meaningful way is really difficult."
Cannabis resin is in decline and the "bud" or raw plant product is growing in popularity. Dealers are now using sophisticated equipment, including "grow tents" which reduce the smell and noise associated with cultivation. Profit from a single plant ranges from £170 to £510. There has been an increase in satellite cultivations in Scotland. "We've had some success in disrupting south-east Asian crime groups but what we are seeing now is more indigenous crime groups involved in cannabis cultivation," said Mr Simpson.
l ECSTASY AND COUNTERFEIT
Crime gangs are using well-known brand names and logos – including Lego, Nike and McDonalds – to promote ecstasy and new drugs or so-called "legal highs". Drug barons are counterfeiting the drug logos of other dealers. It means the contents are unknown and unpredictable for users. "I would stress the Lego logo is not meant for children but is a slick marketing tool," said Mr Simpson. "They are not super strength but are just straightforward ecstasy tablets that have increased in price. They are now selling at £10 plus a tablet."
Scottish gangs are importing Diazepam or Valium powder adulterating it and then illicitly pressing their own tablets. Tests show some of these contain no Diazepam. SCDEA said use is "very prevalent". Mr Simpson said the concern is the level of intake. "At street level people are taking 10, 20, 30 tablets at a time," he said.
The average price of kilo of cocaine is now £50,000 according to the SCDEA. Organised groups use huge amounts of benzocaine to adulterate the drug and make it go further to maximise profits.
The price of a kilo of heroin has tripled but street level purity has plummeted to between 7%-10%. More paracetamol and caffeine are being added by Scottish dealers to maximise their profits.