It is the prescription drug that is said to be “absolutely prevalent” on the streets of Manchester.
As the Manchester Evening Newsreported last week, pregabalin, normally used to treat nerve damage, epilepsy and anxiety, is increasingly used among street sleepers and downtown drug addicts.
Linked to a growing number of deaths in England and Wales in recent years, it’s sold for just 50p a pill in some places – and experts fear that, because it’s commonly taken in combination with others substances, such as heroin, crack and spices, it could lead to a spike in overdoses.
It is understood that much of the supply of pregabalin in Manchester comes from Bury New Road in Strangeways – an area which police have long recognized has “deep-rooted problems” including counterfeit clothing and harassment of street.
READ MORE: “Streets are overrun with groups of intimidating men”: terrified woman living in “absolutely lawless” suburb speaks out
This week we toured the area to see how easy it is to buy “pregabs”.
That’s what happened…
I walked about 100 yards on Bury New Road when a boy in a metallic blue puffer jacket whistled and waved to me across the street.
I meet his gaze and he runs.
” What are you looking for ? He asks as we stand on the sidewalk outside Strangeways.
I tell him that I want tablets, “Pregabs”, I add.
For £ 100 he says he can buy me a box of 150.
We haggle a bit and the price drops to £ 80.
I say it’s still too much, apologize and continue on the road.
Moments later, I stop and hang out in front of a store on the corner of Jury Street.
A black Vauxhall Vectra stops in front of me.
Inside are a man and a woman in their 40s or early 50s. The driver’s side window is rolled down and a man walks up, passes something inside, and takes a handful of notes in return.
The entire exchange lasts about 10 seconds.
I continue to walk, but now other dealers seem to have noticed that I am looking to buy.
As I cross the street, I am approached by another boy, probably still a teenager, wearing a black hoodie and a face mask.
‘Yo, pregabs,’ he said.
As we chat, another boy, maybe a few years older, arrives and resumes the conversation.
He asks how much I’m looking to pay.
“About £ 40,” I say.
For that, he tells me that he can have me ‘four bands’.
I agree and he tells me to wait there, I say I have to go get a buddy’s money and get back to my car before I leave.
I hadn’t been around for over 30 minutes.
My experience on Bury New Road is one that Michael Bradley of the Strangeways-based charity On The Out has witnessed on several occasions.
He says he’s regularly approached by street vendors – and has even been asked once while walking with his daughter.
And he says the proximity to Strangeways Prison poses a huge problem for the recently released prisoners the association works with.
“When the guys are released they can turn left and walk the two minutes to us, or to Bury New Road, where they know they can get whatever they want,” he said. he declares.
“It’s just too easy.
“They have lookouts up and down the street. Anyone who looks homeless or is wearing street clothes is approached.
“We just don’t understand how this continues to happen.
“And it’s not just pregabs, it’s diazepam, gocaine (a legal cocaine-style high) and fake heroin.
“This is all fake stuff and no one knows what’s in it. It’s like a pandemic and Bury New Road is the hub for everyone in the Northwest and the North.”
But it seems like things are different if you are a woman.
When my colleague was walking on the same stretch of road at the same time, she was not asked if she wanted to buy drugs.
Instead, she was repeatedly insulted, harassed and approached by men trying to get her into stores known to sell counterfeit fashion.
She described the whole experience as “extremely uncomfortable and intimidating”.
Police said they had a “dedicated multi-agency operation” – dubbed Operation Cranium – targeting the illegal sale of prescription drugs in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area.
Regular patrols are also taking place targeting the sale of drugs, Superintendent Helen Critchley said in a statement last week.
She added, “Operation Cranium covers all aspects of our response to this problem, including proactive policing such as warrants, dedicated patrols and intelligence gathering, to identify those involved in the provision of. drugs and disrupt the criminal networks involved.
“In addition, multi-partner work continues to take place, such as risk reduction visits to the premises to offer appropriate advice, as well as risk reduction work, targeted at users and professionals who work with them. users.
“Dedicated patrols and a community plan remain in place in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area to target the drug sale, and we are working with our partners to address the deeply rooted issues in the region as part of the ongoing work. around Op Cranium. . “
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