- A Louisiana police department tried to trick people who have crystal meth into handing themselves in.
- The Harahan Police Department posted a warning on Facebook that falsely said a batch of the drug was infected with Zika virus and suggested people bring the crystal meth they have into the police department for testing.
- Police Chief Tim Walker later said that it wasn’t possible for meth to be infected with Zika and that he only meant to raise awareness.
- The Zika virus is carried by mosquitoes and can cause serious birth defects.
A Louisiana police department tried to trick people who have crystal meth into handing themselves in by falsely saying a local batch of the drug was infected with the Zika virus.
A Facebook post on Saturday from the Harahan Police Department, which is based in western New Orleans, said: “***WARNING: *** If you have recently purchased meth in any area of Louisiana it may be contaminated with the Zika Virus.”
The Zika virus can cause serious birth defects if it infects people who are pregnant.
The message suggested people “bring all of it to your local Police Department and they will test it for free.”
It continued, “If you’re not comfortable coming to us, an officer will be glad to come to you and test your Meth in the privacy of your home.”
The post, shown below, was met with a mix of derision, humour, and confusion on Facebook, where it was shared more than 7,000 times.
On Sunday, Police Chief Tim Walker said in an interview with The New Orleans Advocate that the post was meant to raise awareness rather than trap people who use crystal meth.
“There is an opioid and meth problem,” Walker said. “It’s all over the country.”
He said that it wasn’t possible for meth, also known as methamphetamine, to become infected with the Zika virus and that nobody had showed up to have their drugs tested.
Harahan’s mayor, Tina Miceli, didn’t find the stunt amusing.
She told The Advocate, “I am concerned about the information that is disseminated to the community and our surrounding communities, and how they are getting their information.”
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the nonprofit watchdog group Metropolitan Crime Commission, said, “If somebody is gullible enough to believe that … I don’t see anything sinister with it.”
The mosquito-borne Zika virus can transfer from a pregnant person to their foetus and cause a birth defect called microcephaly, in which babies have abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.
Zika virus can be transmitted by infected mosquitos and sexually by an infected partner.
The police department reportedly posted a now deleted follow-up Facebook message.
It read: “Folks, the drug epidemic is real … praying 2019 brings solutions to a real national epidemic. We will continue to aggressively enforce drug laws and work with fellow agencies to combat the illegal enterprises that are literally killing more than 100 people a day with illicit drugs.”
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