Police say the emergence of potent so-called ‘champagne cocaine’ in Leeds is a worrying trend.
Harehills taxi driver Mohammed Zaman, 39, was this week jailed for more than five years at Leeds Crown Court for dealing drugs, including cocaine with a purity of 79 per cent.
At roughly four times the average purity level – and costing £100 per wrap – the class A drug Zaman was selling was dubbed “champagne cocaine” by prosecutor Richard Walters.
West Yorkshire Police’s drugs co-ordinator Bryan Dent said the force had seen batches of cocaine with similar purity levels, but it was usually weakened by being cut with bulking agents by the time it hit the streets.
“We don’t record cocaine by purity, but I know we have had occasions when we have had cocaine of 79 or 80 per cent purity. But it’s very, very rare,” he said.
“It’s clearly a worrying trend, but it also gives corroboration to the idea of a two-tier marketplace for cocaine.”
It’s clearly a worrying trend, but it also gives corroboration to the idea of a two-tier marketplace for cocaine.Bryan Dent, West Yorkshire Police drugs co-ordinator
The court heard Zaman aimed the high-purity drug at users with a higher tolerance and the means to pay for it.
Mr Dent said low earners who regularly took drugs relied on low purity cocaine that is often cut with substances including dental anaesthetic.
“Champagne cocaine” was marketed at professionals on higher incomes.
“I’ve no doubt that there’s a client base out there for it,” he said.
“That’s the problem with drug use – people are constantly looking for more bang for their buck.
“Cocaine itself is a big cause of high blood pressure, heart irregularity and palpitations. The higher the purity, the more chance you have of suffering those symptoms.
“There’s always a concern when higher percentage drugs hit the street.”