Attorney General John Ashcroft on Thursday announced a major crackdown on Internet drug traffickers, disclosing that 115 dealers of the drug GHB had been arrested in 84 cities in the United States and Canada. GHB is known for its popularity among many gay men as a party drug.
"This takedown is a dose of harsh reality for drug traffickers who seek to exploit the vast markets and anonymity of cyberspace," Ashcroft said.
Drug Enforcement Administration chief Asa Hutchinson said that Internet traffickers "can expect to face the same justice the old-fashioned drug dealers face.... With millions of people having quick and easy access to the Internet, the buying and selling of deadly drugs and chemicals from the Web should not, and will not, be as simple as point-and-click."
Ashcroft and Hutchinson announced that the wide-ranging Operation Web Slinger encompassed primary investigations in St. Louis, Detroit, and San Diego as well as Mobile, Ala.; Sparta, Tenn.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Quebec City, Canada. Authorities announced that as part of the probe, they had conducted enforcement operations in over 80 U.S. cities with drug seizures that could have yielded more than 25 million doses of GHB and its derivatives.
The DEA has documented 72 deaths from the drug and its derivatives, which are sold over the Internet to teenagers and young adults by dealers who operate their own Web sites. The drugs are delivered by mail.
GHB is a mixture of common industrial chemicals that Congress outlawed 2-1/2 years ago. The drug acts as a central nervous system depressant and causes drowsiness, dizziness, and loss of inhibition. People who use GHB often refer to it as "G" or "Liquid X." The substance also is abused as a muscle growth hormone.