London (CNSNews.com) - A 10-year-old British girl died of a suspected overdose of the designer drug Ecstasy late Sunday, and police arrested three people in connection with the tragedy.
Jade Slack was spending the afternoon at a friend's house near her home in Lancaster, northern England, when she began to feel sick. She died at a local hospital Sunday night.
Lancaster Detective Superintendent Ian Jones called the incident a "tragic death."
"Our thoughts are with the family at this time," Jones said Monday. "We have recovered articles from the house and from one person in custody."
Jones said one of the "articles" is thought to be a dose of Ecstasy.
"While we cannot confirm at this stage that Jade died directly as a result of this it is obviously a strong line of enquiry," he said.
Lancaster police said three people had been arrested, two females and one male aged "about 18 to 20," but they refused to be more specific about the suspects or to release their names.
The suspects had not formally been charged Monday, a police spokeswoman said, but authorities were continuing to question the trio.
Police were also waiting for post-mortem toxicology tests conducted on the girl. Results were not expected for several days
Britain is in the midst of a wholesale review of it drug policy. Last week, officials decided not to change Ecstasy's status under the law.
Currently, Ecstasy is in the most strictly controlled category, along with drugs such as heroin and cocaine. A parliamentary committee earlier this year recommended downgrading the drug from Class A to Class B, which would put it on a par with amphetamines.
Home Secretary David Blunkett refused to follow the committee's advice, although he did propose downgrading cannabis from Class B to Class C, a move that means most Britons caught with small amounts of pot won't be arrested.
Ecstasy is a dangerous drug and "it kills," Blunkett said last week.
A spokeswoman for Drugscope, the U.K.'s largest drugs charity, said about 10 Britons die from using the drug each year.
The synthetic stimulant, often called a "party" or "designer" drug, is popular in Britain and is catching on in the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Foundation of Women Legislators recently launched an awareness campaign targeted at the growing use of the drug amongst young people.
DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson said that between 1998 and 2001, U.S. ecstasy use doubled.
E-mail a news tip to Mike Wendling.
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