The drug was detected in fake oxycodone tablets
A drug that had never been detected in Europe before was seized for the first time by Portugal’s Judiciary Police (PJ).
Speaking to Lusa news agency, a PJ source said the substance, N-desethyl-isotonitazene, was seized in late December during a customs operation and sent to the Scientific Police Laboratories (LPC).
The drug was detected in fake oxycodone tablets which authorities believe where to be taken to another country.
The same source explained that these tablets were “extremely well made” and were “exactly the same” as oxycodone, a painkiller sold in the pharmaceutical industry but also widely used in the illegal drug consumption market.
According to the police source, this new synthetic drug was to be sold “as if it were oxycodone” in illegal markets.
To identify the drug, the LPC relied on complementary analyses, carried out in collaboration with the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and the Instituto Superior Técnico.
This new psychoactive substance belongs to a chemical class that recently emerged in Europe, called nitazenes, and causes a feeling of euphoria followed by drowsiness, leading to respiratory system blockage, which is one of the main causes of death by overdose.
Since 2019, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has already flagged 16 compounds of this nitazene class, mainly in the northern part of the European continent.