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Three held over drug-related deaths

Three men have been arrested in relation to a spate of drugs-related deaths in Suffolk.

Suffolk Police said the men, aged 19, 20 and 26, all from Ipswich, were arrested today on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.

The arrests follow the recent deaths of two young men in Ipswich, on Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, believed to be linked to a dangerous batch of ecstasy tablets. The death of a third man in Rendlesham is also under investigation.

The death of a fourth man in Telford, Shropshire, is also being linked to the rogue drugs.

Police have urged anyone who has the tablets to hand them in to prevent further fatalities, saying that members of the public have nothing to fear in surrendering drugs from the dangerous batch to authorities.

The drugs are red, triangular pills marked with a distinctive "Superman" logo, and people are asked to hand them in at a police station, accident and emergency department or fire station.

Superintendent Louisa Pepper, from Suffolk Police, said: "Our focus remains the prevention of further harm to our communities by taking these drugs off the streets.

"The arrests follow inquiries by a dedicated investigation team whose work will continue to identify those suspected of being involved in the supply of these drugs."

She added: "We view this particular drug as especially dangerous and want to prevent further deaths and save lives. If you have got any further drugs, please surrender them because they are dangerous.

"I can fully understand people's reluctance in this situation, but we are not looking to arrest or prosecute people - they are really dangerous and we are talking about saving lives."

She added that the force would be targeting the eastern European community in Ipswich with translated leaflets to ensure they receive the message.

Police believe four men who have died and another who is seriously ill in hospital may have taken drugs from the dangerous batch.

A labourer named locally as John Hocking, 20, died after being found seriously unwell in Chestnut Close in Rendlesham, Suffolk, at 7.10am yesterday. He is believed to be a former student at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham in the county.

A second man, also in his 20s and originally from Lithuania, died in Provan Court, Ipswich, at 9.40am the same day. Another man from the same address was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

Detectives believe those cases may be linked to another drugs-related death on Christmas Eve - that of a man in his 20s in Bramford Lane, Ipswich.

And West Mercia Police believe a 27-year-old man who was found dead at a property in Ketley, Telford on New Year's Day may also have taken the drug.

Suffolk Police have linked the drugs with dangerous pills of a similar appearance which were in circulation in the Netherlands last month.

Those tablets had a large concentration of PMMA, which acts more slowly than MDMA, the main component of ecstasy. This causes people to take more pills because they think they are not working.

PMMA can cause high body temperature and an increased heart rate.

Chief Inspector Steve Denham said: "As well as it being illegal to sell and buy drugs, it can also be very dangerous as we have sadly seen with these tragic deaths.

"We would urge everyone not to be tempted to take illegal drugs - you don't know where they have come from, what they are made up of, or how your body will react to them.

"If you have been offered drugs in the Ipswich area over the past few weeks, in particular ecstasy, we'd urge you to contact us with any information so that we can find those responsible and remove these dangerous drugs from the streets."

Anyone with information is urged to contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


From Belfast Telegraph