At least 17 people have died and 50 others have been hospitalized in Argentina after consuming adulterated cocaine, authorities said Wednesday.
Buenos Aires Province Security Minister Sergio Berni has called on anyone who has bought the substance to throw it away immediately.
The first of the dead to be identified were Hernán Castro, 45, Martín López, 36, Dino Melgarejo, 33, and Fernando Yacante, whose age was not revealed, according to local newspaper Pagina 12.
Local authorities have since issued a warning to the general public of “a substance marketed as cocaine” which they describe as having “high toxicity” and is in circulation.
Pagina 12 reported that both the sick and the dead have been transferred to hospitals across the Buenos Aires districts of Hurlingham, Tres de Febrero and San Martín.
Provincial security forces have carried out arrests in the aftermath, suspecting that the cocaine may have been mixed with toxic substances amid a war between rival street gangs, reported the local daily La Nación.
Ten people were arrested this afternoon during raids carried out in the Puerta 8 shanty town.
As details continue to emerge, authorities suspect that the victims may have purchased the cocaine from the same dealer.
According to La Nación, doctors asked some of those who were hospitalized what they had taken, with some reportedly admitting to consuming cocaine.
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