$110 million drugs seized in Russia

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2-tonne haul of Alpha PVP, a powerful synthetic stimulant, seized by police

Saint Petersburg: Russian police said Friday they had seized a two-tonne haul of Alpha PVP, a powerful synthetic stimulant and designer drug which can cause serious hallucinations.

Police found the cache along with some 5.8 tonnes of raw materials after searching an illegal lab outside Tosno, around 65 kilometres (44 miles) outside Saint Petersburg, interior ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk said.

She added the stash was worth around seven billion rubles (100 million euros, $110 million) and that police had made three arrests.

Also known as “flakka”, Alpha-PVP is a cheap drug which has become popular in recent years via “dark web” sales and has a similar chemical make-up to bath salts. Taking it can provoke hypertension, irregular heartbeat and hallucinations.

One user case hit the headlines in the United States three years ago when police arrested a student who had committed a murder and bitten the face of his victim while under the influence.

The main “dark web” drugs platform in Russia is known as Hydra – according to web news site Lenta it has more than 800,000 users.

Russian intelligence earlier this month said they had dismantled an internet-based drug network based in 10 regions and seized around 650 million rubles worth of produce, including Alpha-PVP.

In the face of a growing problem the interior ministry has announced plans to create next year a special taskforce to crack down on the online narcotics trade.

The ministry estimates that around two million Russians were consuming illegal drugs in 2017.