The police have dismissed speculation linking two recent assaults by biting to the use of a synthetic drug commonly known as bath salts.
In a statement yesterday, the police sought to assuage public fears following widely circulated messages suggesting the assailants were under the influence of the pyschoactive drug, also known as cloud nine.
Last week, a mugger attacked a man while he was praying at a mosque in Malé and bit off part of his ear in an attempt to steal his phone. On Saturday, a man in Addu City assaulted a taxi driver and bit two parts of his head in an attempted robbery.
But the police said neither suspect has tested positive for synthetic cathinones. The police have also not received any reports on the use or trafficking of the drug in the Maldives so far, the statement noted.
Citing a paper presented at an annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in 2014, the police said bath salts do not trigger cannibalism.
“Please keep the door locked always. It’s not safe in Malé there is the dangerous high addictive drug called bath salt or zombie drug or cloud nine… it’s all names of this drug… the person use it once and they get addicted and they start to get hallucinate and become cannibalistic so they bite or eat anyone they see,” reads one of the warning messages circulating on social media.
In October, a Bangladeshi man was caught smuggling a new synthetic drug called “flakka” in a joint operation conducted by the police and the Maldives Customs Service. It was the first time flakka was discovered in the Maldives.
Superintendent Mohamed Shifan said at the time that the effects of flakka are similar to that of “ice” or LSD.
“It is also called ‘zombie.’ So we know from the name as well that is dangerous,” he said. Unlike some other drugs, Shifan said an overdose of flakka could result in death.
Flakka or alpha-PV is a synthetic drug created in laboratories. It is highly addictive and severely impacts the central nervous system, triggering delusions and aggression.
Heroin and hashish oil are the most commonly used drugs in the Maldives, but other drugs such as LSD and ecstasy have been discovered in recent years.
According to a 2012 UN report, there are 7,496 drug addicts in the Maldives. However, critics say the real figure is likely to be much higher.