Police are warning that a batch of contaminated ecstasy tablets could be circulating in the Wigan area, following the deaths of two young men from the same town.
Police confirmed that 28-year-old Gareth Ashton and 19-year-old Jordan Chambers had taken drugs before falling unwell. Jordan died at Oldham hospital on Sunday and Gareth died at Wigan Infirmary the following day.
The two men, who were from Wigan, were described as "apparently fit young men" and had both suffered from the same symptoms before they died. Superintendent Andrea Jones said several others went to hospital yesterday with similar symptoms, but no-one is still being treated.
Toxicology tests are yet to establish the causes of death for the two men, but Greater Manchester Police are investigating whether a batch of contaminated ecstasy tablets could be in circulation in the Wigan area. The drugs that are thought to be contaminated are heart-shaped and are available in purple, green, red and yellow.
Superintendent Andrea Jones said: "These illegal drugs - nobody knows what poisons they contain, what toxic chemicals they contain."
Detective Chief Inspector Howard Millington, from Wigan CID, said he was concerned there could be more deaths if the drugs continue to circulate in the area. He urged anyone feeling unwell after taking ecstasy pills to go to hospital straight away for a check-up.
"We are very concerned at how these deaths of two apparently fit young men have occurred", he added.
These illegal drugs - nobody knows what poisons they contain, what toxic chemicals they contain. Superintendent Andrea Jones
A third man who was 26 years old died in Liverpool on Sunday. He is believed to have taken tablets, possibly ecstasy, before he collapsed. Greater Manchester police are not currently linking his death to the two in their region, but they said they could not discount a connection.
The charity DrugScope warned that illegal drug users have no way of knowing what is in any tablets they take.
"If you buy a pill off someone in a club, or off the internet, or from a mate, there is no way you can tell, just by looking at it or swallowing it, what it is until it kicks in," said DrugScope Director of Communications Harry Shapiro.
"Most drugs that are available on the illegal market are not 100 per cent pure."
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