PDEA: Cebu is market for party drugs
CEBU CITY — Party drugs have found a market in Cebu province but authorities are finding it hard to stop the illicit trade.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Central Visayas admitted having difficulty penetrating the tightly knit group of users since these people only transacted with those they knew.
“[We found out that] party drugs are really proliferating here. We were able to establish that there’s a market … in Cebu,” Wardley Getalla, PDEA regional director, told the Inquirer.
“Admittedly, it’s hard to get inside the circle of people who use them. That’s why we need to investigate and find ways to arrest those behind this,” he added.
On Jan. 19, a 19-year-old college student died after supposedly ingesting a drink believed to have been laced with ecstasy, a party drug, during a pre-Sinulog concert here.
The police and the PDEA, however, had yet to confirm the cause of the student’s death pending the release of results of their investigation.
“These drugs are associated with parties because these give [users] a feeling of euphoria. Some don’t know the contents, so there were incidents of death,” Getalla said.
He said the PDEA’s information showed that most of the party drugs sold and used in Cebu came from the Netherlands.
Senior Supt. Royina Garma, Cebu City police director, said these drugs — sold as tablets, capsules and strips that looked like chewing gum — reached Cebu through courier services.
According to Garma, drugs that come in the form of strips are particularly difficult to detect “since these are like pieces of paper that can easily be brought everywhere.”
“[Some party drugs are sold as] strips that melt once placed in one’s tongue. Seconds later, the effect kicks in,” she said.
Leia Albiar, PDEA spokesperson, said they were having a hard time monitoring these drugs since these were not distributed openly, like peddling “shabu” (crystal meth).
“There is a challenge in apprehending suppliers because they don’t sell to someone they don’t know,” she said.
Albiar said a tablet costs between P1,000 and P3,000.
Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak, deputy mayor for police matters, said the city government had reached out to club owners to discuss measures to stop the proliferation of party drugs in their establishments.
“Organizers should help the police in making sure that their parties would not be penetrated by people who bring illegal drugs because they, too, might be dragged into the case if we catch peddlers in their events,” Tumulak said.
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