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Joensuu police warn of drug danger after weekend deaths

Police are looking into possible links between two overdoses and a Subutex seizure.

Tullin takavarikoimia Subutex-tabletteja
Subutex is frequently confiscated by Finnish authorities, including this batch of more than 4,000 tablets seized in May by Customs. Image: Tulli

Following the deaths of two young men this past weekend in Joensuu, police are warning of potentially dangerous drugs on the black market.

The men were found dead one day apart in private apartments in the eastern city. One was found on Saturday morning and the other on Sunday morning, both of apparent drug overdoses.

"It's possible that there is some dangerous drug in circulation in Joensuu that we do not yet have more precise information about," Detective Superintendent Kimmo Wetterstrand of the Eastern Finland Police Department told Yle on Monday morning.

"Apparently this substance has now caused these two people's deaths," he added.

Police say the deceased were both local men in their late 20s and that neither had a criminal background or long history of drug abuse. They are looking into any possible ties between the victims.

"Two drug-related deaths on the same weekend is not very common in a city of this size. These incidents usually occur less than once a year," Wetterstrand said. Joensuu, a university town with a population of some 75,000, lies less than 100 kilometres from the Russian border.

Nearly 200 Subutex tablets seized

Police say that both men had taken drugs before their deaths, including possibly buprenorphine, an opioid sold under the brand name Subutex. While generally prescribed as part of treatment for opioid addiction or for pain, it is also used recreationally.

Authorities are awaiting the results of autopsies to determine what substances were in the men's bodies.

Separately police this weekend detained another young local man who was in possession of nearly 200 Subutex tablets. They are looking to any possible link with the fatalities.

"Generally there have not been any significant changes in the Joensuu drug situation of late," Wetterstrand said.

He added that hard drugs mostly come to Eastern Finland from elsewhere in the country.

"The eastern border does not play a major role in drugs ending up here," he said.

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