Ban for 'legal high' Stimulant Serotoni linked to 20 deaths
A lethal 'legal high' that has killed 20 people in Northern Ireland and was compared to a serial killer on the loose by a coroner has finally been banned.
Stimulant Serotoni - known technically as 4,4'-DMAR - has now been classified as a Class A drug.
That means anyone convicted of dealing it could face a maximum life sentence.
The dangerous drug has been linked to 37 UK deaths - although more than half were in Northern Ireland.
It has also been known as speckled cherries or speckled crosses, although it may have other street names too, or be confused with Ecstasy.
The designer drug has been linked to loyalist paramilitaries and is believed to have originated in eastern Europe.
In June, Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey likened the drug to a serial killer on the loose as he held inquests into the deaths of six people where the drug was a factor.
The victims were aged between 27 and 41 with the deaths occurring in 2013.
He later said those supplying the drug should face manslaughter charges.
Another substance not currently found in the UK called MT-45 has also been controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, crime prevention minister Lynne Featherstone said yesterday.
Serotoni is usually bought in tablet or powder form, while deaths have been connected to MT-45 in Europe and the US.
Possession of a Class A drug can be punished by up to seven years in prison and an unlimited fine, while supplying them can lead to life in prison and an unlimited fine.