Argentina: Counterfeit cocaine kills 20 drug addicts - 74 in hospitals

"Those who have bought drugs in the last 24 hours must definitely throw them away"

123 47 Argentina, Death, Cocaine, Drugs, drug addicts

At least 20 people have died and 74 others have been admitted to hospitals in Buenos Aires due to mass poisoning due to the use of cocaine adulterated with a toxic substance, the Argentine authorities announced.

Authorities initially put the death toll at 12 and about 50 in hospital, but became "much heavier" as the hours passed, with dozens of victims being admitted to eight hospitals, a Buenos Aires provincial government spokesman told AFP.

Authorities issued an urgent appeal to drug addicts in the media yesterday afternoon: "Those who have bought drugs in the last 24 hours must definitely throw them away," said the province's security minister, Sergio Burnie. Authorities are trying to "identify the toxic substance" used to counterfeit cocaine and "withdraw it from the market," he added.

Police undertakings were held in the degraded district Lamma Ermossa, in the northwestern part of the capital, Argentina, which had a sum of ten adducts, according to the Minister.

Cocaine bags similar to those found next to victims were confiscated, added Burnie, who was touring the slum. The drugs were sent and analyzed in a laboratory in La Plata.

It all started yesterday morning, when deaths began and more and more people were admitted to hospitals with poisoning, of varying degrees of severity, in three areas of Buenos Aires. Several of the people admitted to the hospital admitted to the medical and nursing staff that they had used cocaine.

The victims, among them several in their thirties and forties, suffered violent convulsions and sudden heart attacks, according to medical reports cited by Argentine media. The drugs they consumed probably contained "some substance that attacks the central nervous system," Mr Burnie suggested.

Beatrice Mercado said she found her 31-year-old son lying on the kitchen floor yesterday morning. "I thought he had forgotten to turn off the lights - and then I saw him." It was' bad, very bad. "He was almost out of breath," he explained. He hurried to take him to hospital, where he remained, intubated, last night.

"Our main concern at the moment is to be able to" communicate "with drug addicts so that" those in possession of this poison should understand that they should not consume it, "the San Martin prosecutor told Radio Miter. Marcelo Lapargo took over the case.

Authorities fear the toll could be even heavier, as there may be victims who have not had the time or means to go to a hospital. "There are probably dead on the street, or in houses," said a source close to the authorities.

"Every dealer who buys cocaine falsifies it. Some do it with non-toxic substances (…). "But others use hallucinogens and, since there is no control, we have these situations," said Security Secretary Burnie.

Prosecutor Lapargo noted that it could not be ruled out that the cocaine was deliberately adulterated with a toxic substance, in the context of clearing accounts between rival drug traffickers.

Yesterday afternoon, incidents broke out between residents of Loma Ermosa, who were protesting against the arrest of young people, and the police. Several people in the slum, where many live in shacks, were outraged, especially by police, who during their searches caused damage or destruction to homes, according to the country's media.

Source: KYPE