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The sordid side of Newcastle’s drug trade

Numerous drug-related cases in Durban have been linked to Newcastle, and police sources feel there is a major supplier in its town.

The drug trade in Newcastle has escalated exponentially.

From pharmaceuticals to recreational cannabis and crack cocaine, it will be hard to find any drug not on Newcastle’s streets.

Dagga supply may be in short supply this year, but all drugs are in huge demand and freely available.

What is Newcastle’s drug users drug of choice?

Methcathinone, better known by its street name – Cat. Cat is highly sought after, while dagga is still the biggest recreational drug.

What are the effects of Cat?

Cat was used for years as an anti-depressant, and in many countries today is still used as a scheduled drug. It targets dopamine releases to the brain, leaving users in an euphoric state.

Its effects and addictive levels have been likened to that of Methamphetamine (Chrystal Meth).

What about the drug trade in general?

Years ago, the only drug freely available was dagga. Nowadays, the drug trade has changed and diversified. In the past, Crack cocaine, cocaine, meth, Cat, Mandrax and higher strains of dagga had to be sourced from elsewhere.

Today though, it is claimed many dealers have begun to produce the drugs they sell right here in town. In fact, a number of sources have confirmed that drugs such as Crack and cocaine, the Newcastle brand has gained nationwide popularity. Not only is Newcastle producing its own chemical and pharmaceutical drugs, but it is exporting it as well to the rest of the country.

A dealer explained: “For years we had to get our stock from out of town. This was dangerous because of transport and it was more expensive. Now we have suppliers in town for almost all our stock. The only thing we really need to import from Johannesburg is the excellent quality indoor or greenhouse weed.”

Where has all the dagga gone?

Dagga is believed to be the easiest drug to have access to. However, the market is extremely competitive today with buyers searching for top quality and a constant supply. It can be categorised in levels of strength with chronic being the top-level, and the term ‘local’ usually referring to the basic plant.

Cannabis horticulture has become a science in itself internationally, but apparently demand exceeds supply.

Hydrophonics, greenhouses, UV lights, dipping, and a controlled outdoor environments are applied to grow marijuana with specific customers in mind, and to provide a specific strain with varying ‘highs’ to match the target market.

Dagga is a winter plant, and not always available. This has recently led to an increase in in price thereof in Johannesburg of nearly 200 per cent. Locally, the effects of the drought are felt. The burning of weed farms across the country by police also led to a shortage in supply, and hence, and increase..

So what are the police doing?

Newcastle police have partnered with the National Intervention Unit, Hawks, and Covert Crime Intelligence Durban (CCID) to address the drug problem. The police nationally have been clamping down on traders, illegal laboratories, and farms.

Last week, the municipal flats in Surayaville became the target of a sting operation, following information from CCID.

More than 50 police officers were deployed in the biggest operation in the police’s financial year.

A 30-year-old suspect was arrested for possession of dagga after he was found with large quantities, including another four packet pokes of dagga, white cocaine powder, two Crack packets and rock crystals.

Police spokesperson, Captain Shooz Magudulela said: “These operations will be ongoing to stop the destruction of Newcastle youth.”

He also mentioned that in March, a dagga grower was arrested with 38 plants on hand, which was subsequently destroyed. Furthermore, last week a suspect was arrested with 527 grams of dagga in his possession.

What and who is being investigated?

Police sources said information had been given to police regarding the burgeoning drug trade in Newcastle, which led to CCID investigating the area.

Numerous drug-related cases in Durban have been linked to Newcastle, and police sources feel there is a major supplier in its town. Newcastle Station Commander, Brigadier Bhekani Buthelezi said community involvement in giving information to the police was extremely important.

“We cannot be the eyes and ears everywhere. We need the people to help as well. So if the community knows facts about the drug trade, we want them to come forward and give us this information. They can remain anonymous should they wish to remain so,” he said.

Captain Magudulela supplied a contact number for for residents wishing to remain anonymous.

The contact number for this line, which links directly to General Maseko, is 034 314 6767 or 034 314 6400.

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