Partygoers have been warned after a dangerous dewormer for animals and a banned carcinogen were discovered in cocaine seized at the Australian border.
Australian federal police say they have found the carcinogenic phenacetin and the powerful dewormer levamisole in some of the 1.12 tonnes of cocaine stopped at the border this year.
AFP is concerned that cocaine circulating prior to the festive season may be reduced with the toxic substances.
Phenacetin, which was used in the popular painkiller Bex, was withdrawn from the market almost 40 years ago after a doctor in Australia discovered that it was causing a kidney disease. It has also been shown to cause cancer.
AFP’s head of forensic surgery Paula Hudson urges people not to take cocaine during the Christmas period.
“Levamisole, a dewormer that can cause serious skin infections in humans, is often detected in cocaine, which is mainly produced in America,” Hudson said.
“Phenacetin, a drug that is banned in most countries because it causes cancer and damages the kidneys, is also being added to cocaine in an attempt to increase the earnings of illicit drug dealers.”
Australians consume an estimated 5.6 tonnes of cocaine each year.
The country’s cocaine consumption has increased by more than 80 percent over the past five years, although prices here are among the most expensive in the world.
Production in the South American cocaine areas of Colombia and Peru has increased by 50 percent over the same period.
Ms Hudson said the high prices and demand for cocaine created a lucrative market for criminals, including bikie gangs, which cut down on illegal drugs with other drugs to increase their profits.
“AFP begs Australians to be safe this Christmas and to be aware that their lives are often in the hands of brutal cartels and transnational serious organized criminals like illegal motorcycle gangs in Australia,” she said.
“(They) do not care what toxic substances are mixed with illegal substances that are dangerous in themselves.”
In January, AFP stopped more than 590kg of cocaine at the Australian border, the largest single cocaine seizure this year.