A network of shops selling ‘legal highs’ and psychoactive substances have today been raided by police in North Manchester.
GMP have executed warrants at two shops in Manchester City Centre as well as a shop in Strangeways and a private property in Sale.
As a result of today’s raids, numerous packets of ‘legal highs’, bags of pills and a large amount of unknown powder have been seized and will now be subject to forensic analysis by experts to establish their true chemical composition.
Police Sergeant Adam Cronshaw said: “Today’s warrants are GMP’s response to safeguard vulnerable people from ‘legal highs’.
“We are encountering increasing numbers of young people across Manchester under the influence of these drugs making them vulnerable to child sexual exploitation and addictive behaviour.
“We want to satisfy ourselves, and the community, that illegal products are not being sold.”
The raid follows an investigation by GMP after a large amount of legal highs were previously seized from a storage unit in the Strangeways area.
The packets were forensically tested and a large proportion were found to contain illegal Class B drugs such as methylphenidate and ethylphenidate.
A recent report revealed that since 2009, the number of deaths attributed to these ‘legal highs’ has increased by 800%, which shows the very real dangers anyone faces when taking these substances.
“I urge people to remember that just because it says it’s legal does not mean it’s safe,” PS Cronshaw said.
“Essentially, you are playing Russian Roulette with your own lives.
“Even though these shops will say that they only sell to over 18s, it is clear that they are eventually ending up in the hands of children. They only cost £8 per packet and so are easily affordable. Some of these shops even sell their products over the internet.
“Users may have no idea what substances may be contained within the packets as there are no legal quality controls and the packets are often marked with ‘not for human consumption’ to absolve the sellers from any responsibilities should someone become ill from taking them.”
Chief Inspector Patrick McKelvey added: “The operation this morning is just the start of a campaign to get legal highs off the streets of Manchester.
“I know of two cases where legal highs may have contributed to the deaths of two young people.
“The substances that were seized this morning will be forensically tested to gain an understanding of the constituents of these products, and the photographs taken today will assist parents and carers to identify what these substances look like and take the appropriate action.”
GMP have produced a ‘legal highs’ information booklet aimed at 14-19 year olds which explains what they are, the risks involved and signposts to local drug support agencies.
They will soon be delivered to schools and colleges in the area, along with educational workshops to improve awareness.