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A CITY is hooked on the deadly Black Mamba drug made notorious by a BBC documentary – and ‘zombies’ are taking over.
Banned substances are rife and things have got worse over the years, according to several disheartened residents and workers.
In 2016 the BBC featured Wolverhampton in the midst of a then 'legal high' drug epidemic, telling the story in 'Getting Off Mamba' of a 27-year-old homeless man’s addiction to Black Mamba.
Black Mamba and other synthetic cannabis products have caused deaths in the UK, with new psychoactive substances mentioned on 258 death certificates in 2021.
It is illegal and mimics the effects of the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, but is more potent increasing the risk of harmful side effects, including organ failure.
Nearly seven years on locals, of the West Midlands city have exclusively told the Sun of continuing problems with illegal substances in Wolverhampton.
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One worker at a renowned high street beauty chain said: "It's actually gotten worse over the years and nothing, sadly, has changed."
She told how groups of drug users 'off their heads' often congregate outside her shop and prey on customers 'begging for money'.
The worker and local resident, who didn't want to be named, said: "It's a very unpleasant situation and feels quite worrying and intimidating.
"I don't know what's being done to stop it, but I suspect nothing."
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The woman, in her late 30s, said that drug-related crime was increasing and some local stores had been targeted.
She explained: "There's been a recent spate of shops having front windows being smashed, desperate people breaking in to steal cash or goods to sell on.
"The authorities check out these incidents but little if anything is being done to prevent it or reprimand the culprits."
What is Black Mamba?
Black Mamba is another synthetic cannabis substitute that mimics the effects of marijuana.
Similar to Spice, it can cause users to hallucinate and suffer from breathing difficulties, vomiting and loss of control over parts of the body.
Although designed to replicate a cannabis high, Black Mamba is much stronger and puts users into a zombie-like state.
The store assistant said the city – home of ex-One Direction star Liam Payne, 70s rock band Slade and soul singer Beverley Knight – has a 'bad reputation'.
She said: "It's a shame because the majority of people here are so friendly and nice but we still have a big drugs problem here which spoils it.
"It's males, females, young, old, obvious drug addicts and homeless continually asking for money, begging right outside our shop in the middle of the high street, and they don’t take no for an answer.
"You see them congregating in the middle of the day and they are off their heads. They are a nuisance
"The local PCSO's (Police Community Support Officers) are sometimes coming around and trying to move them off but it's not very effective."
A local pensioner, 77, admitted: "It's a bad area for drugs and it's got even worse over the years and especially now because of the cost of living crisis and homes crisis."
The retired London Underground driver said: "The city centre is full of druggies, they've been smashing up shop windows and stealing.
"The junkies are teenagers and upwards, male and female, and they're giving the city a bad name although, personally, they cause me no trouble."
Michael, who chose not to be fully identified, said: "Everyone knows there is a prolific drugs problem in the city.
"I've lived here for 18 years, too long, and the situation hasn't improved, it's worsened.
"The council and cops have tried to stop illegal drugs being sold and used but the coronavirus lockdown and state of the economy now haven't helped.
"I'm not sure what drugs are the latest rage, I have no idea, but they are out there on our streets."
In the centre of the city is a huge red-bricked drugs rehab centre, which invites people in.
It says: "Currently, thousands of local people in and around Wolverhampton are in dire straits due to drug and alcohol addiction.
“This problem is not unique to the area.”
Wolverhampton – where natives are called 'Wulfrunians' – was granted city status in December 2000 along with Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, and Preston, Lancashire, when the Government declared all three 'Millennium Cities'.
Mayo Kashed, who runs Aladdin Hair Studio, believes that homelessness in the city is still a 'big problem', but described the drug crisis as 'not so bad'.
He said: "There is an issue with drugs, as with cities everywhere, and years ago the situation was really bad but they're trying to clean the place.
"Shops have been shut, new business opened and there is an influx of migrants into the city which results in more people in need and more homelessness."
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Shop worker Simon Lloyd confessed: "The situation in the city is hideous. Too many people are struggling, they're homeless, they can't get jobs and they turn to drugs."
The assistant, 35, at Native Men's Clothing, said: "The city's full of crime, stabbings shootings, drugs. Some shop windows have been smashed in, I'm convinced it's all connected."
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