Drug drama: poison cocaine kills 17 people, 56 in the clinic

Buenos Aires – Drug drama in Argentina. At least 17 users have died after using adulterated cocaine.

The number of victims could be even higher, since there are first indications that more people are dying, reports dpa, citing the newspaper “La Nación” and the television station TN.

56 other drug users were taken to the hospital with severe symptoms of poisoning, it said on Wednesday, citing security circles. Investigators said the death toll could rise.

Customers are said to have bought the poisoned cocaine in this slum in a suburb of Buenos AiresPhoto: MATIAS BAGLIETTO/REUTERS

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” an official told La Nacion newspaper. “The number of patients is constantly increasing. More and more people in serious health conditions are being taken to the hospitals. There is also evidence that people are dying on the streets and at home, but the number is not yet known.”

Most of the victims apparently bought the cocaine from the same dealer. The police were able to secure the remains of the drugs in a bag and on a bill.

What makes the drug so life-threatening?

► Initial investigations suggest a rival drug dealer poisoned the drugs to put the rival out of business, sources said.

Buenos Aires Provincial Security Minister Sergio Berni called on all users to refrain from using drugs purchased in the past 24 hours.

People worry about their family members who have been admitted to the hospital

People worry about their family members who have been admitted to the hospitalPhoto: EMILIANO LASALVIA/AFP

“Substances have been added to the cocaine to create more volume, and sometimes these substances are very toxic,” Berni said during a raid on a slum just outside Buenos Aires.

► A second hypothesis was that the victims had used the opiate fentanyl instead of cocaine. The drug is considered to be significantly stronger than heroin and can be deadly even in small doses. Fentanyl is a driver of the opioid crisis in the US, killing tens of thousands a year.

Table: Addictive substances and active ingredients in Germany - infographic

Compared to other Latin American countries, Argentina does not suffer from massive conflicts between the large drug cartels.

However, local clans are fighting hard for business areas and zones of influence in the slums on the outskirts of the metropolises. In the so-called villas, drugs are often sold out of veritable bunkers.


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