Tuesday, May 17

Argentina. New hospitalizations after drug use

Six people who have used drugs have been hospitalized since Sunday in Rosario, Argentina’s third largest city, with symptoms similar to victims of adulterated cocaine that killed 24 people last week, AFP learned Monday from health sources.

The Secretariat of Public Health in Rosario, 300 km northwest of Buenos Aires, reported the hospitalization, Sunday afternoon then overnight, of five men and a woman, aged 22 to 41, including two were placed on life support. The others were in stable condition. The patients were found to “have a history of substance use” and the cases were referred to the provincial Department of Safety for investigation.

24 dead

The health authority said it could not be able to specify which drug it was, but relatives of hospitalized patients quoted in the media reported cocaine purchased shortly before. Public Health Undersecretary Silvia Marmiroli said that in some cases, alcohol and psychotropic drugs could also be involved. According to her, several patients presented symptoms of “sensory impairment and respiratory distress”, of “convulsions”.

These symptoms were present in many people hospitalized last week in the large northwestern suburbs of Buenos Aires after consuming adulterated cocaine, the source of which could be traced to a point of sale in a quasi-slum in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Loma Hermosa.
Twenty-four people died, 12 of them at home before they could even be hospitalized, and more than 200 consultations had taken place in the space of 36 hours for symptoms of varying severity.

A bad mix at the origin

A public alert had been issued, calling on anyone who had purchased cocaine locally to get rid of it. More than 20,000 individual doses were seized by the police, without it being established whether they were all adulterated.

The component with which the cocaine was cut is still being analyzed, but the authorities strongly suspect an opiate derivative, and a priori ruled out the hypothesis of an intentional act, more likely a bad mixture.

Monica Cuñarro, an expert prosecutor in drug trafficking, founder 12 years ago of the first specialized judicial unit, explained to AFP that the drug market, under the effect of the pandemic and local gangs not constituting the judicial priority, has become “atomised, diversified” in recent years, resulting in less expertise and control at the end of the chain of “who makes the mixes”.


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