Police department issues warning over drugs that are being made to look like sweets ahead of Halloween

Police department issues warning over drugs that are being made to look like sweets ahead of Halloween

Halloween is a well-loved holiday in America, and yet it's also one that is tinged with anxiety. We're used to seeing movie monsters terrorise teenagers and stalk children, but these are fictional dangers; harmless phantasms on the silver screen. But is there a real and urgent danger out there which threatens vulnerable kids? Are people putting drugs in Halloween candy? It's a rumour which has worried parents for decades. But is there any truth to it?

On October 22, The Dublin Police Department in the US state of Georgia issued a warning to parents, in which they claimed that drug dealers are handing out methamphetamine tablets and MDMA pills which apparently resemble regular sweets. The department claimed that the sweets had been manufactured to resemble "sweet tarts", and came in a wide variety of shapes, such as stars, circles and hearts. Law enforcement took to Facebook to post a picture of the offensive pills. 

An image of MDMA tablets. Credit: Getty

Their official statement read:

"Officers of the Dublin Police Department seized illegal drugs that had the appearance of some popular children's candy. While it is not a custom of drug dealers to target children, officers of the department took the initiative to send out a public awareness announcement in order to educate our community as to the existence of this type of drug and its resemblance to children's candy. The drug tested positive for methamphetamine."

The post added:

"The accidental ingestion of methamphetamine pills or MDMA (Ecstasy) pills by children presents a serious risk. A few reasons that illegal drug dealers 'stamp' or form their pills to look like candy is to evade detection by law enforcement or allow drug users to possess and use the drugs with a decreased fear of detection."

However, a number of commenters were critical of the police's post, and believed that the department had misidentified the drugs. One commenter wrote: "You would think that the police would know the difference between N-methamphetamine (‘crystal meth’) & Methyl enedioxy methamphetamine (also known as MDMA or ‘ecstasy’.) They’re two very different drugs. These pills are MDMA, [sic]" while another added: "Uh, these just look like standard ecstasy pills that have been manufactured for decades. Any proof that anyone has any intention of passing these out to kids?"

According to fact-checking site Snopes, although MDMA tablets do look like candies and are often mistaken as such by some members of the public, trick-or-treat tampering is "a persistent but largely baseless fear that’s dogged Halloween celebrations for decades."

Although the Dublin Police Department's post is intended to inform the public about the appearance of dangerous drugs, MDMA pills have resembled sweets since their inception, and have not been 'newly-made' to look like sweets. Furthermore, drug dealers are highly unlikely to spike Halloween candy with pills, since young children are hardly a profitable market to target.