Street deal for ‘Xanax tablets’ lands four Thanet teenagers in hospital

Emergency services

Four Thanet teenagers ended up in hospital after taking an anxiety drug -possibly a counterfeit version – that has been linked to more than 200 UK deaths since 2015.

The 17-year-old boys met up with a dealer in Ellington Park, Ramsgate, and bought ten Xanax tablets on October 13.

Hours later all had been taken to hospital with symptoms including being unable to stand or talk.

Drug facts

The drug is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks and is a powerful tranquilizer with 20 times the potency of Diazepam.

Although widely prescribed in America it is not available on the NHS in the UK but can be obtained by private prescription. The presription drug is subect to strict regulations but  there is a growing problem of counterfeit Xanax, bought on the dark web or through dealers who often group text ‘special offers’ to users and potential users.

This is particularly dangerous because counterfeits  may contain variable amounts of alprazolam, making it hard for drug users to decide how much to take. Counterfeit Xanax has also been shown to sometimes contain other drugs and/or potentially dangerous adulterants.

The drug is a class c benzodiazepine, which has seen growing usage.  Across the UK there were 315 young people who needed help with abuse of benzodiazepines in 2017-18, almost double the number in 2016-17 of 161.

Alprazolam (Xanax) was the benzodiazepine which saw the biggest increase from 8 in 2016 to 2017 to 53 in 2017 to 2018.

The side effects can include drowsiness, slurred speech, lack of balance and memory problems. The issue of illegal dealing is exacerbated by the low cost with tablets being sold for as little as £1.50 for 1mg.

‘Unable to stand, walk or talk’

An adult connected to one of the boys said: “They took them at about 12.30pm and at 6pm we had a phone call to say our boy could not stand, walk or talk. He was by Tesco at St Lawrence. We took him straight to hospital and one of his friends was already there in quite a bad way.

“A couple of hours later the other two boys turned up.

“The first two were put on drips and given anti-nausea tablets. The third went home and the other one refused treatment.

“Our boy took more than two days to get over it.”

The incident was reported to police and a name given for the dealer. But the man says he was told an arrest couldn’t be made although police would ‘tag’  the culprit so he could be searched if officers spotted him.

The man added: “I went to the police because I want him prosecuted,  someone could die next time.”

Enquiries ongoing

Kent Police say enquiries are ongoing.

A spokesperson for the Force said: “Kent Police received a report that a class C drug was supplied to four teenage boys in Ramsgate on Sunday, October 13.

The children are not reported to have fallen seriously ill but did receive hospital treatment.

“Officers have spoken with each of the boys, and several appropriate adults, and have provided safety advice.

“Enquiries to establish the full circumstances are ongoing and, at present, no arrests have been made.”

Increased seizures

Public Health England says although there is little evidence of Xanax use being an ‘epidemic’ instances are on the rise.

The PHE says UK police seizures data showed that the number of alprazolam seizures was far greater in 2017 than in previous years, increasing from fewer than ten seizures in 2016 to over 800 in 2017.

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  1. Why are Thanet police so incompetent when it comes to arresting drug dealers ? Local thugs in Thanet are being allowed to deal all kinds of drugs without fear of prosecution.
    Why are these young dealers being allowed to continue their illegal trade ? The lack of response from the local police is helping these dealers hook another young generation into becoming addicts and dropouts.
    Drug dealers breed misery and fund harder crime. All reported drug dealers should be arrested and not ignored to continue their illegal trade. Drug dealers are scum and a blight on our communities and economy. It’s time for Thanet’s police to get this scum off our streets

  2. A KCC councillor intimated at an ARTRA monthly meeting on Monday 21.10.19 that there is no Drug Squad in the county of Kent – no Sweeney – to deal in an expert manner with public tip offs on drug dealing.

    ARTRA has reported the addresses of two class ‘A’ drugs dealers who deal to children/teenagers with zero arrests, zero surveillance, zero police action – police & TDC Officers operating within the Multi Agency Task Force were informed 6 months ago & 3 months ago at meetings set up at ARTRA’s insistence due to the weight of community concern on discarded needles being prevalent on Athelstan Road & dealing crack & smack being public knowledge.

    Dealers details are only known to the public because of their brazen dealing, exacerbated by dealers knowing their activities won’t be interfered with by the police.

    This compounds the perception amongst drug dealers & the public alike that Thanet is a law free zone, in which at least 8 specific drug gangs are known to operate, based in the UK’s major cities such as Manchester, who ship drugs into Thanet on a weekly basis with complete impunity. Apparently they collectively make £1M a month from the severely impoverished district without a sniffer dog in sight at any transport hub/mainline station.

    One can but wonder when what amounts to this state facilitation of drug dealing in grossly under policed regions like Kent/Thanet, will see a drug squad reintroduced locally & adequate police employed to actually enforce the law.

    • The “unofficial ” policy regarding drug dealing in cliftonville and margate central is to let it continue , monitor where it occurs, disrupt activities where possible and only intervene if violence is involved. The police and council would prefer the drug problem to be concentrated in small known areas , even if arrested most suspects will be back on the street in short order, if it ever gets to court only the most serious cases ( county line dealers) are likely to get a custodial sentence. The users have nothing to lose and no incentive to change their ways and neither do the dealers. Athelstan Road has been the centre of such activity for over 20 years and won’t change, a gang operates at the top of Dalby Square, Edgar Road has Julian /Hatherley Court which between them have hosted dealers almost continually for 20 plus years,
      The view of the authorities is that everyone needs to live somewhere, social housing doesn’t want them , so they end up in cheap rented property ( often in less than desirable condition, but not surprising as junkies are not the best of tenants) cliftonville has this in abundance having matured to cater for those that gravitate to the area.
      Selective licensing is meant to help try and deal with the problem , but who houses the trouble makers if the council sets standards too high and landlords either sell up or evict problem tenants ?
      Those that have bought in Athelstan Road now know why its the cheapes street ,in the cheapest ward of the cheapest part of thanet which is in turn the cheapest part of kent etc etc.
      They want the benefits of gentrification but want the rest of society to pay for it, sorry people you’re in it for the long game, it’s taken nearly 30 years for Dalby Square to show signs of sustainable improvement , Athelstan has far greater problems and will need more years yet.

  3. Self inflicted death wish then?
    Drugs, the weak minded madness!
    Everybody knows how dangerous drugs are, just the real idiots take them…..

    • I just come across this and dont post on anything as a rule , no social media etc.
      Rather than disagree . I think your wrong in what you say , i can only go by myself in my younger days, im in my 60s now. When i was in my teens i started to smoke fags at school “to be in with the crowd” . I done the drugs “Acid” it was in those days, speed etc. My case was to “keep in with the crowd”. Have some of this mate or take this pill it make you feel good. I dont think “everybody” knows how dangerous drugs are at a young age. When i was 20 i settled down to have a family and never looked back or taken any drug since apart from i still smoke.

  4. Not sure why the officers need to be ‘special drug officers’-they have four people admitted to hospital so the drugs are a health hazard & legitimate or counterfeit it is illegal to sell them. They have the guys name, they have a description, he probably has a record, they just have to stop & search him, get a warrant for his flat/house & turn it over.

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