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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Tainted Ecstasy Tie To Sixth Death Probed
Title:CN AB: Tainted Ecstasy Tie To Sixth Death Probed
Published On:2012-01-28
Source:Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-01-31 06:02:58

A toxic chemical that has been connected to a spate of ecstasy
overdoses has been found in yet another deceased person, this time
four months earlier than the previously reported deaths.

The case brings the death toll to six being investigated by police,
who are now also rethinking how best to address drug education with

Police revealed Friday that a 43-year-old man was found dead in a
northeast home in July 2011.

Toxicology test results given to police this month indicate he had
paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) in his system when he died of a drug

"What happened was the medical examiner's office searched their
database for other cases that involved PMMA and that identified the
July case," said Alberta Justice spokeswoman Julie Siddons.

"They did not rerun any of the toxicology tests. PMMA is actually
among the toxins that are screened for in Alberta. That particular
case was an isolated case and we didn't see it again for four months,"
Siddons said.

Police are also awaiting the toxicology results of another Calgary
case and one more from a Nanton man who died following a suspected
overdose, which, if confirmed, would raise the total to eight cases in
Calgary and area. British Columbia has reported five cases of
PMMA-tainted ecstasy deaths.

Police also say that all PMMA samples in the six cases were traced
back to PMMA powder, which can be ingested in powder, pill or capsule

Investigators are trying to determine how and if the cases here and in
B.C. are linked and say they are getting good tips from the public to
help the investigation.

"We also are receiving significant information from the public that
should sustain us and there are a bunch of leads we are following up
on," said drug unit Staff Sgt. Mike Bossley.

While the drug unit tries to determine who made and sold the lethal
drugs, police say they are also now rethinking how best to educate
young people about street drugs.

"Neither traditional messaging nor traditional delivery methods are
proving effective, so we are looking at alternative ways to teach kids
about drugs," said Calgary police youth services unit Staff Sgt. Frank

"We recognize that traditional 'just say no' messaging, when it comes
to drug education, just isn't effective. We need to empower youth to
recognize the influencing factors on their decisions and learn what
they know."

A new poster campaign is being unveiled and they are starting to
appear in Calgary schools.

A social media campaign will follow, aimed at youth and

The goal is to get the message across that it's impossible to know all
ingredients in drugs made in secret labs by criminals.

"Regardless of the street narcotic that they may be ingesting, they
just don't know what's in that street narcotic and they're effectively
playing Russian roulette when they ingest drugs," said Cattoni.

PMMA is cheaper than ecstasy (MDMA) and is cut into ecstasy for
additional profit. PMMA is thought to be five times more toxic than
MDMA and its effects can take longer to set in, and therefore users
will sometimes take more.
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