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Killer ecstasy tablet cheaper than a pint of beer

They are the so-called party drugs, cheaper than the price of a pint of beer and, in many areas, just as easy to get hold of.

The death of popular DJ Gerard Mulholland and hospitalisation of four other men has brought the dangers posed by ecstasy-tablets to the fore again.

It is understood the men had taken a tablet called 'Speckled Rolex', a type of ecstasy which can be five times deadlier than the traditional drug.

Neighbours described how men ran into the street, sweating to the extent that they looked as though they had just emerged from a swimming pool.

While the results of toxicology tests are not yet known, Mr Mulholland's death has sparked fears of another deadly batch of drugs in circulation in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year a lethal strain of ecstasy was linked to the sudden deaths of a number of young people.

Police warned the tablets were laced with a bulking chemical, making them up to five times more powerful.

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Eight people, seven from the greater Belfast area and one from Coleraine, died within weeks, during the summer. Tablets known as Green Rolexes were blamed for some of the deaths.

Seized pills were found to contain the highly toxic chemical PMMA as well as ecstasy.

Following the deaths, the PSNI hit back hard against those pedalling drugs. Officers made over 300 arrests between September 23 and October 6 – during 1,053 searches – taking £300,000 worth of illegal drugs off the street.

The huge operation followed scathing criticism of the PSNI after the unexplained deaths.

Senior police officers have repeatedly said the PSNI cannot win the fight against drugs without the help of local communities.

Earlier this year, Detective Chief Superintendent Roy McComb urged those with information on drug dealing gangs to help police bring them to justice.

"I would love the general public to just realise the dangers and the threats that organised crime generally and drugs specifically poses to them," he said.

"It isn't something happening to somebody else, it's happening to you, your neighbours, your family and your friends."

Drugs have killed almost 1,000 people in Northern Ireland over the past 10 years.

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