Police dispel drug deaths 'myth'
Three people have been arrested by police investigating eight suspected drug deaths in Northern Ireland.
They were detained in Belfast and the north west over a four-week period recently and were released pending further inquiries but investigators are not linking the deaths or the arrests.
No single drug was responsible and an officer leading the inquiry said the fatalities were not being treated as murder.
People aged mainly in their 20s and 30s died and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is still awaiting the results of forensics tests before reaching conclusions.
Drugs have killed almost 1,000 people in Northern Ireland over the last decade - a market now supplied by 150 organised gangs spanning Europe and beyond - and the senior investigator warned consumers were playing "Russian roulette" with their lives.
Detective Chief Superintendent Roy McComb said: "There is a sense that these eight people have died because of one bad batch, I want to dispel that myth."
He added there was no connection between those who died and no single cause.
"There is no consistent individual drug that we are finding linking any of these deaths, no single bad pill out there killing people," he said.
Last year nearly 1,400 people were charged with drugs offences - an increase of almost 16% on the year before. Police dismissed suggestions that they were not doing enough to tackle drugs in Northern Ireland when the "dogs on the street" knew who was responsible.
"We don't speak dog. If people know we would rather they picked up the phone and spoke to organised crime branch," Mr McComb added.