Forsenic Science Ireland say the nature of drugs coming onto Irish shores is becoming more complex
The nature of drugs coming onto Irish shores is becoming more and more complex, with potentially lethal consequences for consumers, according to Forensic Science Ireland (FSI).
A huge increase in headshop-type drugs and amendments to drugs laws in recent years has led to an exponential hike in the variety of compounds submitted to their laboratory for analysis, the organisation claims.
Every time drugs are seized, they're brought to the FSI's labs in Phoenix Park to be tested. Experts collect and compare DNA, and search evidence for bodily fluid among other tasks
"The first thing that we have to do is analytically prove what's in the white powder," forensic scientist John Power told Newstalk Breakfast, as he examines a seizure worth between €750,000 and €1.5m.
"We get nine or 10 seizures of that magnitude each year. Law enforcement agencies love it when they seize materials of that nature because they're stopping it from coming in and being redistributed."
Using a combination of techniques, Power separates the mixture and identifies a unique chemical compound within it. For other substances, like cannabis, thin-layer chromatography is used.
Another issued outlined by the FSI is the potency of drugs coming into Ireland. In the majority of cases, emergency departments are referring cases to the FSI, not the Gardaí.
As well as that, the FSI say the manner in which people are buying drugs has now changed.
"A lot of this trade has transferred to the internet. The problem with that is, people don't know exactly what they're taking, and there's a distance created between the supplier and the end user. There's no real consequence if somebody supplies something dangerous."
To combat this, sites such as PillReport.com and the Irish-focused Yokes.ie have been set up. Home drug testing kits are also being introduced by welfare officers in certain Irish colleges, including Dublin City University.