PSNI's clampdown on prescription drug dealing sees 17 held
Police have seized around 65,000 diazepam tablets, £10,000 in cash and made 17 arrests in a massive crackdown on prescription drug dealing over the last three months.
Diazepam is a class C controlled drug that may only be lawfully possessed on prescription.
PSNI Detective Inspector Andy Dunlop said the drugs had been found in 29 searches across Northern Ireland and England.
"We have also seized £10,000 cash and are conducting a linked money laundering investigation," he added.
"Other drugs seized include small quantities of herbal cannabis, cannabis resin, amphetamine and mephedrone as well as pregabalin, which is also a prescription-only medicine.
"Seventeen people have been arrested; eight were charged and nine are subject to reports being sent to the Public Prosecution Service.
"From our enquiries, it appears some people may be unaware of the legal status of this drug. Diazepam is classed as both a controlled drug and a prescription-only medicine. As such, someone may only be in possession of it by virtue of a lawfully issued prescription from their GP or other medical professional."
The detective said that much of the illegally supplied diazepam had not been produced under laboratory conditions nor subjected to any form of quality control.
"You simply cannot be sure what you are taking," he said.
"We are continually working with colleagues in other statutory agencies about this issue. I would encourage anyone with an addiction to these tablets to seek help."
The PSNI advises the public only to use prescription-only medicines in consultation with their GP, pharmacist or other healthcare professionals.
Medicines obtained through unregulated internet sites may not have been prescribed by a healthcare practitioner, may not have been subject to the normal manufacturing controls and may not be of a suitable quality, or even be what they are being sold as.
Mr Dunlop said: "I would urge the public not to be tempted by reduced prices or fooled by attractive websites offering medicines without prescription.
"Taking short cuts and using these medicines could expose you to a dangerous counterfeit or substandard medicine. In addition, you could also be the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud. Illegal possession or supply of diazepam can lead to a criminal conviction."