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'Speckled Cross' Claims 19 In Northern Ireland

Yet another legal, unregulated drug is wreaking havoc on young lives.

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By McCarton Ackerman

06/06/14

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A new unregulated stimulant is wrecking havoc in Northern Ireland, with 19 deaths being reported in relation to the drug over the last year.

The fatalities that took place between June 18 of last year and February 6 of this year were related to a drug called speckled cross or speckled hen, known under its chemical name as 4,4-Dimethylaminorex. Little is known about the drug other than it is a psychoactive substance which “has rarely been encountered as a drug of abuse,” according to Dr. Bernadette Prentice, a scientist from Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI).

The drug was first discovered in the Netherlands in 2012, and has since been sold in both powder and tablet form. The tablets are typically white and have cherry imprints on them. Deaths related to speckled cross have also been reported in Finland, Hungary, and Denmark. Overheating is a frequent side effect that occurs during use.

"Over the past couple of years there has been growing concern about what have been inaccurately labelled as legal highs,” said Edwin Poots, health minister of Stormont. "They are marked 'not for human consumption' for a reason as the sellers are trying to get around our existing drug laws and medicines regulations."

Speckled cross reportedly bears similarities to speckled Rolex, a yellow ecstasy pill that costs about $3.50 each and is cheaper than a pint of beer. That drug was responsible for last December’s death of Gerald Mulholland, known as one of the top DJs in Belfast. Eight deaths throughout Northern Ireland in 2013, including seven in the capital city of Belfast, have been linked to Rolex.

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