NAt least 17 people have died in Argentina after using adulterated cocaine. 56 other drug users were taken to the hospital with severe symptoms of poisoning, the newspaper “La Nación” and the television station TN reported on Wednesday, citing security circles. The number of dead could still rise, according to investigators.
“We’ve never seen anything like it,” an official told La Nacion newspaper. “The number of patients is constantly increasing. More and more people in serious health conditions are being taken to the hospitals. There is also evidence that people are dying on the streets and at home, but the number is not yet known.”
Highly toxic substances added
Most of the victims apparently bought the cocaine from the same dealer. The police were able to secure the remains of the drugs in a bag and on a bill. Initial investigations indicated that a rival drug dealer had poisoned the drugs to put the rival out of business.
Buenos Aires Provincial Security Minister Sergio Berni called on all users to refrain from using drugs purchased in the past 24 hours. “Substances have been added to the cocaine to create more volume, and sometimes these substances are very toxic,” Berni said during a raid on a slum just outside Buenos Aires.
Drug stronghold slums
A second hypothesis was that the victims had used the opiate fentanyl instead of cocaine. The drug is considered to be significantly stronger than heroin and can be deadly even in small doses. Fentanyl is a driver of the opioid crisis in the US, killing tens of thousands a year.
Compared to other Latin American countries, Argentina does not suffer from massive conflicts between the large drug cartels. However, local clans in the slums on the outskirts of the metropolises are fighting hard for business areas and zones of influence. In the so-called villas, drugs are often sold out of veritable bunkers.
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