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One4b importer set to quit

Published: 7:07PM Thursday June 21, 2001

The importer at the centre of a Ministry of Health investigation into the sale of the chemical One4b plans to stop distributing the solvent, which has been used as a party drug.

The Ministry targeted the home of Timaru man James McNee, who imports the substance 1-4 butanediol, commonly known as One4b.

No charges have been laid following the raid.

McNee, the managing director of Alphaware says the Ministry of Health confiscated his entire supply of the solvent, sold as a compact disc cleaner, saying it was evidence.

McNee says it is still legal to possess One4b but supplying it is probably more of a hassle than it is worth.

In the raid, officials removed supplies of One4b, records and computer equipment in the raid, which was part of an investigation by the Ministry of Health which began in January.

"We've gathered a number of exhibits, some of the product we've been looking for, some records and bits and pieces," says Detective Sergeant Peter Burt of the Timaru police.

The substance is linked to at least one death in New Zealand, that of Aucklander Shawn Brenner, 22, who died in April this year - friends say he had taken One4b.

Health officials suspended distribution of the product but say they suspect the Timaru importer has continued to sell it over the Internet, marketed as puritech - a CD or head cleaner.

In January, Ministry of Health officials swooped on the same Timaru house, confiscating 60 litres of the chemical.

At the same it issued a warning to the public not to consume any product containing 1-4 butanediol because of severe adverse reactions including death.

Timaru importer James McNee told TV One's Sixty Minutes he had no qualms about the sale of 1-4 butanediol.

But moments after Thursday's raid, he claimed he has not been telling people to take it for some time.

McNee will voluntarily speak with investigators on Friday. The Ministry says the decision whether or not to proceed further will depend on the outcome of that interview.

An expert committee that advises the Minister of Health on drug classifications is yet to make its recommendation on One4b.

Raids on speed labs increasing

Meanwhile there has been a huge jump in the number of police raids on labs producing methamphetamine.

Police say they have found 21 labs producing the drug, commonly known as speed, this year.

That compares to 18 busts over the last four years.

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