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Deadly Cocaine Cocktail
A cocaine-laced soft drink manufactured in T&T is being blamed for the death in the United Kingdom of a Caribbean immigrant. The death of Royal Navy veteran Joromie Lewis, originally from the St Vincent and the Grenadines, has sparked a total recall of all Cole Cold Pear D drinks off the shelves in England by the British Food Standards Agency (FSA). SM Jaleel & Co Ltd, local manufacturers of the drink, also has initiated a similar voluntary recall in T&T of the batch from which the tainted drink was produced.
However, the company also said yesterday the tainted soft drink may have been smuggled into the UK, since it did not export its products to that country. The company’s legal adviser, Janine Collier, told the T&T Guardian yesterday the company’s sales representatives and merchandisers were dispatched to local supermarkets to remove the affected product from their shelves. Lewis, 33, of Gosport, Hampshire, died hours after drinking a cocaine-tainted 20-oz Pear D drink on December 5.
Yesterday, the FSA, in its alert, warned the public about the soft drink which has been found to contain high levels of cocaine. “The product has been linked to the death of one person in Southampton and is the subject of an ongoing investigation by Hampshire Constabulary,” the alert added.
Belfast Telegraph article, published on the UK newspaper’s Web site, said: “Lewis consumed the drink in Southampton on December 5 and died within hours at Southampton General Hospital.” Yesterday, Collier said SM Jaleel & Co Ltd, of Otaheite, also decided to issue a voluntary local recall of the soft drink.
In a statement on its Web site, www.smjaleel.net, the company said all Pear D drinks from the batch containing the best-before code, “BB JAN 08 14, were being “voluntarily recalled” as a precautionary measure. The company did not say how many drinks were involved in the recall. The bottle from which Lewis drank was from the batch that is being recalled. SM Jaleel said, however, that it did not export Pear D to the UK and believed the product was smuggled into the UK.
“We can only assume that the product entered the United Kingdom through irregular and unauthorised means and is therefore considered contraband. “This was evidenced by the fact that the best before date on the bottle seems to have been compromised,” the release said. SM Jaleel added: “The Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed during their investigations that the bottle was tampered with and contained fatal amounts of liquid cocaine.”
SM Jaleel added that the label on the bottle of the contaminated drink was not in compliance with the UK label regulations and “could not have entered or passed through customs in the UK through its ports of entry.” The company assured it had been assisting and would continue to assist the Hampshire Constabulary with its investigation into Lewis’s death.
Condolences to family
SM Jaleel, in its statement, added: “Pear D has 25 years of trust, quality and family tradition in T&T and as a company we are shocked and saddened to see our product abused and used in such a sinister manner.” The company extended its condolences to the Lewis family. Yesterday, when the T&T Guardian tried to speak to SM Jaleel CEO Dr Aleem Mohammed about the alert, his secretary directed all calls to Collier. She directed the T&T Guardian to the company’s formal statement on its Web site.
The FSA alert stated investigations were ongoing to find out “whether more bottles of the product have been distributed in the UK.” The alert told members of the public they should “not consume this product and, if found, (they) should take it to their local police station.” Photos of the Pear D bottle also were posted on the Web site.
Yesterday, Press Association duty editor Rob Middleton, in a telephone interview, confirmed the report and said the Hampshire police were still investigating the source of the tainted drink and retailers had been asked to remove the drinks from their shelves.
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