The CAT Fight Week In Week Out


The CAT Fight

Tim Rogers reports on the trade in the deadly and illegal drug mephedrone - aka meow meow - and follows the police as they attempt to catch the dealers.


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Transcript


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Everyone used to laugh at me and say that I didn't look like a

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typical drug dealer, which I didn't. MCat. The drug they call meow meow

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is big business on the streets of Wales. It's cheap, addictive, and

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deadly. Police! Police! Tonight we follow police as they deal with the

:00:24.:00:28.

fall out. People self-harming, biting themselves, chewing their

:00:28.:00:30.

own tongues. They have superhuman strength. They want to injure

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themselves, injure anyone around them. Have you got anything on you

:00:34.:00:38.

that can harm me or you sharps, blades? It burns like you wouldn't

:00:38.:00:48.
:00:48.:01:20.

Police in Wales are fighting a new battle in the war on drugs. Just to

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confirm this is a strike, yes? Strike? Strike? We are driving to

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the target's premises. We suspect he has taken possession of a

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quantity of an unknown quantity of mephedrone this evening.

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Deadly meow meow is mephedrone and it's flooding the drugs market in

:01:42.:01:46.

Wales. They know their target is a mephedrone user and they think he

:01:46.:01:56.
:01:56.:01:56.

might have been dealing from his I guess it demonstrates to me the

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dangers the police face daily in their routine work. You can see

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this has been sharpened, so clearly it has a use.

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It's not long before they find a white powder.

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A small amount of mephedrone was found on him when he was first

:02:12.:02:16.

detained so he's been arrested for that. He's very high, mood swings

:02:16.:02:22.

are up and down, very significant at the moment. We are conducting a

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thorough search on the house. Mephedrone originally appeared as a

:02:29.:02:33.

party drug. But it has been illegal to possess or sell it for more than

:02:33.:02:37.

two years. It is listed as a Class B drug but, since the ban, there's

:02:37.:02:46.

been a dramatic rise in crimes Police are still trying to discover

:02:46.:02:49.

why mephedrone appears to be such a problem in Wales compared to the

:02:49.:02:53.

rest of the UK. And how criminal gangs are getting millions of

:02:53.:02:57.

pounds worth of the drug onto our streets. Tonight as we go

:02:57.:03:00.

undercover to investigate the trade, we'll ask whether the law is tough

:03:00.:03:10.
:03:10.:03:13.

In Newport, last year 20-year-old Rachel Wood was sleeping on the

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streets. Her addiction to mephedrone put her here. I used to

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come here at night, settle down for the night, find somewhere to sleep.

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If there was a cubby hole, that was home, that was safety, where you

:03:27.:03:34.

felt safe. But Rachel was far from safe. Especially from the dealers.

:03:34.:03:37.

Like others across Wales, they never miss a chance to make dirty

:03:37.:03:43.

money. They try to make out they are doing you a favour more than

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anything. They always say, we'll do you two for this price and we'll do

:03:47.:03:50.

it for you it at this price as a favour for you. They are your

:03:50.:03:55.

friend till you have got nothing. When you owe them money, they will

:03:55.:03:59.

make sure they get the money no matter how they get it. But they

:03:59.:04:04.

know you will keep going back. Rachel's craving for meow meow

:04:04.:04:14.
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became so desperate, she started begging. That's when you know you

:04:21.:04:30.
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In Swansea, police cracked down on the dealing of heroin last year but

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since then, mephedrone has taken its place. Out on the streets, one

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user told us his life has been ruined by it. The result of his

:04:44.:04:52.

addiction is that he now has no job, no home and his life is in chaos.

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For legal reasons, we can't show his face. The new drug came out,

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meow meow. It's just taken over Swansea at the moment, it's

:04:59.:05:07.

everywhere. People are taking meow meow from the addiction of heroin.

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Mephedrone's a nicer buzz and last longer than gear because gear is so

:05:10.:05:13.

crap, so they're getting money's worth and paying �15 for a lot more

:05:13.:05:23.
:05:23.:05:31.

Users swallow, sniff and inject the mephedrone. You get a warming

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feeling and you are breathing like a dragon for 30 seconds then for

:05:34.:05:44.
:05:44.:05:47.

the next 30 minutes after, you are Police are gathering intelligence

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on crime gangs who are trafficking mephedrone across Wales. The

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information they are receiving illustrates the disturbing lengths

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some dealers are prepared to go to. Dealers are approaching young

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children in early high school and offering tasters for as little as a

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pound. That's taking place in South Wales, Dyfed-Powys and Gwent police

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force areas. There is a real ruthlessness about this so they are

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hooked, and they are the market for the future.

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Across wide areas of South and West Wales, mephedrone is pouring in.

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Police believe the trade is well organised.

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It's not relying on the traditional network of supply. It's being

:06:33.:06:38.

imported mainly from China, distributed through parcels. It's

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easier to get via the internet and relatively cheap as well.

:06:45.:06:48.

It is illegal to buy and sell mephedrone, but online, there's no

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shortage of dealers offering a door to door delivery service. All it

:06:53.:07:03.
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takes is a few texts and emails. We're posing as potential buyers.

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We've already had a reply. Fresh mephedrone in stock. Anyone need?

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It's going very fast. They are saying �3,500 per kilo or

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5 kilos at �12,000. It's crystal form too.

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That's enough for thousands of deals on the street. They said, OK

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mate, we send all orders. Place orders by 3pm Monday to Friday for

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next day delivery. And how do we pay? The text says very anonymous

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if you pay via cash. One offers to post it to us from China. But would

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:07:56.:08:02.

Police in South Wales are on another raid, this time to the home

:08:02.:08:12.
:08:12.:08:25.

In every raid, officers now look Rob's just found cannabis leaf so

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that's going to be seized. And traces of a white powder on a card,

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which means it's been chopped cut and weighed. There's weighing

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scales been found in another room. Just for info, there's a lot of

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paraphernalia here as in snap seal bags, sandwich bags, scales,

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residues of powders. This white powder was sent away for analysis

:08:50.:08:58.

and the suspect was bailed. The number of mephedrone related crimes

:08:58.:09:05.

in Wales has risen by 83% in the last year. More and more MCat is

:09:05.:09:15.
:09:15.:09:16.

being discovered on dealers who This bag containing a kilo of the

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drug was found in another unrelated raid in Swansea.

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It's being brought in, you can buy it via the internet, people can

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import it through the airports via ports. We are getting tips offs

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about it coming in and we're doing our best to intercept it. That's

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where such a seizure has probably come from. This amount on the

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streets could, depending on how its cut, equate to 4,000 street deals,

:09:37.:09:42.

a phenomenal amount which would flood the area basically. Dealers

:09:42.:09:52.
:09:52.:09:52.

will cut it with anything to make Our drugs have arrived by post. The

:09:52.:10:02.
:10:02.:10:11.

online dealers brag that it is top It has taken a week to get here.

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There's enough here for ten hits and they are already offering us

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more. We're getting the contents tested at a licensed lab.

:10:17.:10:19.

Former nurse Michelle Ricketts thought she could handle the drug,

:10:19.:10:23.

but within seven months of her first hit in at a party, she was

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behind bars. I've always been a very sensible girl. I've always had

:10:31.:10:34.

my head screwed on, what's right and wrong as such, and the drug

:10:35.:10:38.

just took over my life. It made me forget all the emotional problems I

:10:38.:10:46.

was having. It put me in a good state of mind initially.

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18 months ago, Michelle, from Abergavenny, was spending nearly

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�1,000 a week on mephedrone. She ended up stealing �100,000 from a

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company she worked for to help pay for her habit.

:10:59.:11:03.

I became something I never thought I would be - a druggy. I felt as

:11:03.:11:06.

though I lived a double life, I was attending work, but because I was

:11:06.:11:10.

partying so heavily on the weekend, I was taking grams of meow into

:11:10.:11:13.

work with me and going to the toilet and I would use it in work,

:11:13.:11:23.

just to keep me awake. I'd be able to hold a conversation, I'd be

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driving, driving my mum. Because I'd have no sleep, and psychosis

:11:27.:11:30.

was slipping in, it was quite normal for me to see seals jumping

:11:30.:11:33.

down the road, and I'd joke to myself, "Oh the seals are back,"

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and that was normal. It stops you from eating and drinking because it

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makes you feel like you have razor blades in your throat.

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Michelle knew the risks she was taking. Years before, she had

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trained as a nurse. But she was so heavily addicted, she even began

:11:57.:12:01.

selling mephedrone. I fell into dealing a little bit,

:12:01.:12:06.

only to friends and to people I knew. Everyone used to laugh at me

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and say that I didn't look like a typical drug dealer, which I didn't.

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It's not a proud moment for me, but I was always known as the queen of

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bombs. Someone came up to me and said, "Have you got a bomb on you?"

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And he had it. He was in such a state that he sat in the pub and

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pee'd himself. And I just looked and just thought I'd done that. And

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that brought it home to me that's notnormal behaviour, I shouldn't be

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proud of that. Michelle says the drug is so

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powerful, it changed her beyond recognition. Back in Swansea, this

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user says getting hold of mephedrone is quick and easy.

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Ten minutes to get to the place, couple of seconds to phone them to

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come. Ten minutes to get to the place, a few seconds to get the

:13:01.:13:05.

person. In half an hour, you'd have it and come back and have your hit.

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Heroin dealers now are thinking of turning to selling meow because

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it's quick money to be made. OK, you gotta give more, it's more

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substance but it's selling quicker. But to buy it, he says he has had

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to resort to crime. Sitting in Castle Square Gardens,

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walking up and down the high street shoplifting to support my habit,

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drinking on the streets. It's hard for us to stay on the streets the

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way the streets are at the moment with a new drug meow out. And we're

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addicts, it's hard at the moment. And drugs support agencies are

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finding it hard too. Referrals are rising rapidly as more and more

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users turn to them for help. I've been doing this for seven

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years. I have never seen any one drug take over as quickly,

:14:02.:14:12.
:14:12.:14:14.

especially considering not long ago At the needle exchange, Kimberly

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and her colleagues are seeing users with injuries and infections.

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I'm seeing people who've been injecting heroin for years, good

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injecting techniques. A couple of weeks on meow and we are seeing the

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injuries. The drug affects blood circulation,

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particularly to the hands and feet. This man agreed to show us the

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consequences. His toes are infected and his nails are lifting off.

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I'm seeing bruises, abscesses, all sorts of nasty things coming up on

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people's arms. This user last took mephedrone a

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week ago. That was from injecting in a vein in my finger. Started as

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water blisters, then it's just eating away at my skin pretty much.

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I was a heroin addict for four and a half years and it didn't do half

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as much damage as this has done. It burns like you wouldn't believe,

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:15:26.:15:28.

like boiling water on you. You have the rush last 20 minutes, then you

:15:28.:15:32.

are paranoid then for the next hour and a half.

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She has no idea of the long term damage she's doing to her body.

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It's just one of those drugs you want to try I suppose, and it's

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sending them crazy. My ex, he's been in hospital, nearly lost his

:15:47.:15:57.
:15:57.:16:02.

Rachel has permanently damaged her health through drugs. For years she

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was addicted to ketamine a powerful sedative. It's taken its toll.

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My bladder stopped working. It won't work ever again. I've had to

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have a urinary catheter in for a year and a half. Now I started self

:16:18.:16:28.
:16:28.:16:32.

catheterising. I won't have use of it again. That's from taking it.

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After surgery, Rachel turned to mephedrone, thinking it wouldn't do

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as much harm. But things went from bad to worse.

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Quite often by here, you wouldn't be on your own. You'd have other

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people sitting or lying here asleep that had passed out. It's horrible

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to think drugs landed me here. Mephedrone is linked to depression

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and other mental health problems. Rachel attempted to take her own

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life. I woke up in hospital and they said

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you are lucky to be alive. I had a heart monitor on me and I had to do

:17:07.:17:10.

something about it. They put me into a mental health hospital in

:17:10.:17:16.

Ebbw Vale. I was in there for five months and in that time I realised

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it was my last chance. She has managed to detox, and now,

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through support groups, Rachel is using her experiences to help other

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users come off mephedrone. You see kids 13 or 14 on it. They

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think it's all right because it was legal at one point. That's still

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the attitude they have - because it was legal, it's all right. I would

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be dead by now if I was still on it. I'd be dead.

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On the streets, police are reporting a rise in violence linked

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to the drug, especially when it's mixed with alcohol.

:17:49.:17:52.

People I've come across under the influence of this think they are

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superhuman basically. I've recently been in hospital where it took four

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of us to hold him down. He needed to be intubated just to have a cat

:17:59.:18:02.

scan on a head injury. People self harming, biting themselves, chewing

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their own tongues. They have superhuman strength, they want to

:18:04.:18:09.

injure themselves, injure anyone around them.

:18:09.:18:12.

A young woman's been found confused and distressed in the city centre.

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The police are trying to work out what she's taken.

:18:15.:18:21.

You are not making a lot of sense, are you? You've taken Valium, have

:18:21.:18:25.

you, nothing else? They suspect mephedrone is another

:18:25.:18:30.

cause. Have you got anything that can harm

:18:30.:18:35.

me or you on you? Sharps, blades? A paramedic is called before she's

:18:35.:18:41.

taken to hospital. She was totally was totally under the influence of

:18:41.:18:45.

more than she was maintaining she'd taken. He did ask if she'd taken

:18:45.:18:54.

any mephedrone, she was adamant that she hadn't. Then later, she

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came randomly out and said maybe it was the meow, then said maybe,

:18:57.:19:04.

maybe. But she was drifting in and out of consciousness then.

:19:04.:19:08.

Wynd Street in Swansea is full of party goers. Most people here just

:19:08.:19:11.

want enjoy the nightlife, but this is becoming a hotspot for crimes

:19:11.:19:14.

linked to mephedrone, which is putting more strain on the police

:19:14.:19:20.

and the NHS. We've seen a number of people who

:19:20.:19:22.

recently ended up staying in hospital under several consultants,

:19:23.:19:29.

having tests and brain scans because of neurological problems.

:19:29.:19:33.

The impact on us has been very severe. These are people who are

:19:33.:19:36.

fit and healthy, who have never come across the radar in terms of

:19:36.:19:39.

drug abuse, drug agencies or NHS suddenly ending up in hospital with

:19:39.:19:43.

major illness and we don't know what the long term effect is going

:19:43.:19:50.

to be. Every week, AE have to deal with

:19:50.:19:56.

users and increasing incidents of violence.

:19:56.:20:03.

Our hospital covers from Carmarthen to Bridgend. In the last six to

:20:03.:20:08.

nine months, the pattern of drug abuse has changed dramatically.

:20:08.:20:11.

People getting very, very violent and involving people who come to

:20:11.:20:14.

the department. These people are suffering neurological problems,

:20:14.:20:17.

chest pain problems and fits, black outs and it's very difficult to

:20:17.:20:27.
:20:27.:20:29.

One family from Barry knows just how deadly mephedrone can be.

:20:29.:20:32.

Nicola Thomas' brother David collapsed and died from a drug

:20:32.:20:40.

overdose just days after telling her he was using the drug.

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He told me that he had a few ounces of Brain Base. Me, being naive,

:20:46.:20:50.

didn't know what it was, and then he explained that it was MCat mixed

:20:50.:21:00.
:21:00.:21:00.

with an amphetamine. David, who was a long term addict,

:21:00.:21:03.

took a cocktail of illegal drugs and was admitted to hospital. He

:21:03.:21:11.

spent two days on a life support machine.

:21:11.:21:15.

We were told he was brain dead. So the machine was going to be

:21:15.:21:25.
:21:25.:21:27.

switched off. For the sake of drugs and a couple of pound. The dealers,

:21:27.:21:32.

they just don't care. They don't care what they've put us through.

:21:32.:21:39.

They don't care if it's just another life off the street. I

:21:39.:21:43.

think when it comes to MCat, whatever they call it, it should be

:21:43.:21:46.

an automatic prison sentence, and if they don't end up doing it, they

:21:46.:21:52.

ain't gonna stop it. If they don't change it to Class A, there's gonna

:21:52.:22:02.
:22:02.:22:04.

Michelle is trying to stop others falling into the mephedrone trap.

:22:04.:22:11.

She's helping drug support agencies raise awareness about the risks.

:22:11.:22:14.

The thing that scares me the most is the mental health issues that it

:22:14.:22:19.

has - depression, psychosis, suicidal thoughts. And we don't

:22:19.:22:23.

know what the long term damages are for the mental health issues.

:22:23.:22:28.

While under investigation for fraud, Michelle tried to kill herself.

:22:28.:22:31.

Everything I'd fought for, I'd lost interest in, so I just took an

:22:31.:22:38.

overdose. I was sat in my flat and it turned

:22:38.:22:41.

into a drugs den. But just being sat in my flat, writing notes to my

:22:42.:22:51.
:22:52.:22:55.

Michelle detoxed and spent eight months in prison. Today she's

:22:55.:22:58.

trying to rebuild her life, but she's living with the legacy of

:22:58.:23:01.

dependency. I torture myself every day about

:23:01.:23:07.

what I've put my family and friends through. I never want to go back to

:23:07.:23:17.
:23:17.:23:18.

But quitting mephedrone is easier said than done. Doctors are

:23:18.:23:23.

becoming increasingly worried about how it's affecting users.

:23:23.:23:26.

With heroin and cocaine, there's specific physiological effects. We

:23:26.:23:33.

know exactly what we are dealing with. With this drug, the apparent

:23:33.:23:36.

range of mental problems is difficult to monitor. And the other

:23:36.:23:38.

thing is, these drugs may be changing subtly because the people

:23:38.:23:41.

manufacturing it may be changing the chemical process ever so

:23:41.:23:44.

slightly, partly to evade legal detection, but also to keep ahead

:23:44.:23:54.
:23:54.:23:54.

At the lab where we sent the white powder we bought from China, the

:23:54.:24:01.

test results are in. The dealer said it was mephedrone. What you've

:24:01.:24:04.

effectively bought is even worse. This is unquestionably an illegal

:24:04.:24:07.

drug, it would be classified as a class B schedule 1 substance,

:24:07.:24:16.

according to the Drugs Misuse Act. It was two compounds present,

:24:16.:24:26.
:24:26.:24:30.

neither of which was mephedrone. We're pretty certain that one of

:24:30.:24:33.

those compounds is methanone, 100 per cent confident of this fact.

:24:33.:24:36.

Another psychoactive. The other compound present we're not

:24:36.:24:38.

absolutely certain as yet, but I think it's probably methedrone.

:24:38.:24:41.

Compounds such as this are very, very powerful chemicals that can

:24:41.:24:44.

have extreme effects on the body. So if we'd taken this substance,

:24:44.:24:47.

the result could have caused heart problems, a trip to A&E or even

:24:47.:24:49.

worse. It could definitely kill. Um, there

:24:49.:24:51.

have been plenty of incidences of deaths due to psychoactive

:24:51.:24:55.

compounds. These are dangerous things to be playing with. It's

:24:55.:24:58.

criminality of one of the worst kinds really because they are

:24:58.:25:08.
:25:08.:25:09.

gambling with people's lives. It's labelled as L-Luecine, which is

:25:09.:25:14.

used as an additive for protein shakes. Body builders tend to use

:25:14.:25:18.

it. You take grams of the substance that's actually present here and

:25:18.:25:26.

the chances are you'll meet your The drugs we bought online were

:25:26.:25:31.

despatched via an international courier and the Royal Mail. They

:25:31.:25:39.

told us they had no idea what they were carrying. But the fact is this

:25:39.:25:42.

packet managed to get through a variety of sorting centres and UK

:25:42.:25:46.

customs with no problem at all. Royal Mail says it abhors the use

:25:46.:25:50.

of the postal system for illegal drug dealing. It's working closely

:25:50.:25:55.

with the UK Border Agency and the police to combat this problem. In

:25:55.:26:01.

Wales, the fight against the dealers continues.

:26:01.:26:04.

These criminals are here to make money. So we have to stop them.

:26:04.:26:07.

However they are doing it - on the internet, whether they are turning

:26:07.:26:11.

up on street corners or organising it from a distance abroad - we are

:26:11.:26:19.

targeting them and we will get them. Some of those dealing with the

:26:19.:26:23.

casualties of MCat say it's time the drug was re-classified.

:26:23.:26:26.

This drug is worse in ways than some others in terms of the

:26:27.:26:34.

violence of the other drugs like cocaine and heroin. I think all are

:26:34.:26:37.

potentially as bad as each other, but a class B in my opinion

:26:37.:26:39.

seriously under-estimates the impact of this drug.

:26:39.:26:42.

We asked the Home Office for an interview and if there are any

:26:42.:26:45.

plans to re-classify mephedrone. They declined our request and said

:26:45.:26:48.

there are no plans to alter its status, but they hope people will

:26:48.:26:51.

take responsibility for their own actions and free themselves from

:26:51.:27:01.
:27:01.:27:03.

This user knows his battle with mephedrone isn't over.

:27:03.:27:10.

I just wanna tell kids and families to watch their kids don't get on it.

:27:10.:27:15.

Get off it, don't let them end up like me.

:27:15.:27:21.

For a long time, Rachel didn't think she'd survive.

:27:21.:27:25.

No matter who's telling you there's a light at the end of the tunnel,

:27:25.:27:28.

you think they don't know what you are talking about. But there is,

:27:28.:27:35.

it's just getting the help. I am passionate about helping them. I'm

:27:35.:27:39.

not giving up. Too many gave up on me I don't want to give up on

:27:39.:27:43.

others. Back at the flat raided by police

:27:43.:27:45.

in Ebbw Vale, officers found a small amount of mephedrone, but

:27:45.:27:51.

there was no evidence of dealing. It was the second time in four

:27:51.:27:58.

months that Andrew Pitman had been caught with the drug. He pleaded

:27:58.:28:01.

guilty to possession and was fined �110 and ordered to pay �105 in

:28:01.:28:09.

It's been dubbed the Frankenstein drug - it's illegal, it's deadly but users are still getting it delivered to their doors. Mephedrone or Meow Meow is ruining lives across Wales. Week In Week Out investigates the trade and follows police as they try to catch the dealers.


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