UK streets may soon be like zombie San Francisco due to synthetic opioid rise

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    The UK could have its very own San Francisco "zombie" crisis on its hands with a surge in opioid use.

    A police chief believes it is now "inevitable" there will be a spike in deaths from the use of drugs which have taken parts of the United States by storm. Donna Jones, chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners issued the stark warning.

    It comes after horror drug use started due to members of the Taliban banning poppy farming, natural resources used to create heroin. The ban, which came into force last April led to issues with supply.

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    She said: "That will completely dry up the heroin supply down to Africa and up through Europe over the next 12 months, which means the Chinese synthetic opioid market is going to explode.

    "It's already happening in America, and heroin addicts in America are dying in their plenty because synthetic opioids like fentanyl are literally 50 times stronger than street heroin. And it is so tragic."

    In just nine months of the drug being available in the US, a total of 692 people died of overdoses, the Daily Mail reported. San Francisco is now on track to witness 800 tragic deaths relating to the drug. August was the deadliest month on record, which saw one person die of an overdose every nine hours.

    In the UK, deaths caused by drug poisoning in England and Wales are already at their highest levels since records began 30 years ago, according to the ONS.

    China could be behind the importing process of the new drug, with chief Jones adding: "The Chinese gangs have been keeping a close eye on the supply of heroin around the world and have clearly seen an opportunity to exploit the market with a massive explosion in synthetic opioids."

    Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, leading the investigation, said: "Synthetic opioids have been detected in batches of heroin found in London and across the UK.

    "They substantially raise the risk of incredibly serious harm to the user, and are believed to be linked to a number of deaths." Initial sightings of drugs like nitazene, which are linked with the deaths in San Francisco, were found in Wakefield in 2021.

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    • Crime
    • Drugs
    • Police
    • United States

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