Page last updated at 02:07 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Rise in cocaine seizures in north

Line of cocaine and a razor blade
Police said cocaine was the drug of choice for well-off abusers

Seizures of cocaine in the Northern Constabulary force area have increased in the past year, a senior officer has said.

Det Ch Insp Peter MacPhee described it as the "biggest growth area" in terms of illegal drugs recovered in the Highlands, Western and Northern isles.

Since the start of the year more than 100,000-worth of drugs have been found by police.

Cocaine, along with amphetamine and cannabis, were among the hauls.

Mr MacPhee said it was not known what lay behind the rise in the amount of cocaine coming into the region.

It will be interesting to see what effect the economic downturn has on cocaine since it is a drug chosen by the better off
Det Ch Insp Peter MacPhee
He said: "Cocaine seizures over the past year are probably the biggest growth area in our force area.

"We are now seeing quite substantial seizures of cocaine right across our area.

"It will be interesting to see what effect the economic downturn has on cocaine since it is a drug chosen by the better off."

The officer said assistance from the public has been key in detecting drugs and leading to the arrests of people suspected to be involved in their supply.

He said: "People are no longer willing to turn a blind eye to drug activity. Generally, there is greater public awareness about the harm drugs can do."

In November 2007, Northern's chief constable said dealers were targeting the Highlands and Islands with cocaine because they saw the region as prosperous.

Ian Latimer said at the time: "Cannabis is still the drug of choice you could say followed by amphetamines then heroin.

"The only significant change we have had is some small seizures and growing treatment needs around cocaine."



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