THE local drugs scene is being driven by a very small number of thugs who are running lending services that increase people’s dependency, a local man has claimed.
The man, who works in the education sector, has expressed his grave concert at the “enormity” of the drugs scene in the Garvaghy Road and surrounding area, and is calling for something to be done.
The concerned Portadown resident, who does not wish to be identified, said those battling with drug addictions are stealing from their families and from wherever they can to finance their habit and repay their debt to the dealers.
“The dealers will, at times, accept stolen items of any nature as payment for the drugs,” he said.
The issue of a ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme, in which huge interest rates are being charged by dealers, was raised last week by Sinn Fein councillor for the area Paul Duffy, who urged people to contact the police if they had any information.
The local man said the age of people using drugs varies but is mainly in the 16-30 range, with the main drugs in circulation being methedrone, ecstasy and cocaine “although the one that is most in demand is methedrone”.
He added, “The use of drugs has changed from a recreational habit to become a dependency in many cases. The local drug scene is being driven by a very small number of local thugs who are selling these drugs to vulnerable groups of people, and have lending services that charge high interest rates and carry heavy penalties and that enable people’s habits to get worse.
“I am from the education profession and I feel some duty of care to the young people of the community. Things are tough enough presently with recession, limited opportunity and the young people don’t need any further negative temptations that not only in cases is ruining their lives but the lives of their families.”
He said a lot of people were living in ignorance to the extent of the drug and drug-related problems that individuals and their families were enduring on a day-to-day basis.
He also claimed that, in some cases, the parents of the dealers not only know what their children were doing but were involved.
He was critical of what he saw as a lack of help and support for victims and their families. “I know that medically people have received fantastic help and direction but there is no action or initiative or the ground to combat the issues. If there is, it isn’t very visible, “ he said.
“To date I feel the awareness and support from local authorities, support groups and many elected local government representatives has been very poor.
“I would like to see a step towards community meetings for concerned parents and residents in all of the different areas in Portadown.
“As communities within Portadown we need support in exposing these thugs to help reduce the long-term affects of this problem.”
A youth organisation worker told the paper that ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes had long been a feature of the local drugs scene but did concede that in recent months it had become more prominent.
“It has followed the ‘loan shark’ model,” said the worker, who did not want his name, and that of the organisation he works for, revealed. “I would say that it definitely become more business orientated.”
Do you have information about the extent of the local drugs problem? Get in touch with us confidentially on 028 38 336 111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org