The competition between rival gangs to sell cocaine to wealthy clients will result in the drug’s purity rising to dangerous levels, experts have warned.
Dealers are also likely to begin dropping their prices to attract more customers as the market becomes saturated with the Class A drug.
Other gangs are using alternative methods including loyalty cards more commonly seen in high street chain stores, reports the Telegraph.
Deaths from cocaine in England and Wales have more than doubled in the past four years according to the Office for National Statistics – with 371 cocaine related deaths in 2016, compared to just 139 in 2012.
In 2016-17, 12,000 people were admitted to hospital with cocaine related disorders, but in 2007-08 this number was just 5,148.
Competition between rival gangs to sell cocaine to wealthy clients will result in the drug’s purity rising to dangerous levels, the former head of drugs threat at the National Crime Agency has said (file photo)
The purity of the the drug on the streets, which has hit around 54 per cent, is the highest found in decades.
Although some believe purer cocaine is safer, the opposite is true as bulking agents used such as benzocaine are far less dangerous than cocaine.
The former head of drugs threat at the National Crime Agency told the Telegraph: ‘Prices of cocaine could actually drop because the Albanian organised criminal gangs in control of the market have really had an impact on wholesale prices.’
A ‘wholesale’ kilogram that would have cost around £50,000 is now being sold for £30,000 a kg by Eastern European gangs to beat out competitors.
He added: ‘Purity has increased at street level because the price at wholesale has dropped, so there is no need to adulterate it.
Tottenham MP David Lammy said there is ‘very little awareness’ about the link between drug abuse and violence
‘There is a potential that the purer the cocaine becomes at retail level, the greater the likelihood there will be more deaths. Firstly, lower purity cocaine is rarely mixed with more dangerous substances than cocaine itself.
‘Secondly, if you have an underlying health problem such as a heart condition cocaine speeds up the body and is likely to cause a problem, particularly at higher purity.’
A new scheme to let club-goers and festival attendees test their illegal drugs to find out their potency has already been backed by the Royal Society for Public Health.
Tottenham MP David Lammy, who has been outspoken about gang violence taking place in his constituency and across London, has said people are not aware of the link between drug abuse and violence.
He told the Telegraph: ‘Even for people who are proud to be socially conscious and environmentally conscious, donating to charities and buying free-trade or organic food, when it comes to ordering cocaine to a house party or a dinner party on a Friday night there is very little awareness of what is really going on and how poor, black youths are basically foot soldiers for a few Mr Bigs further up the food chain.’