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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release [print friendly page]
September 19, 2002

For further information, contact:
DEA Public Affairs: 202-307-7977

More than 80 U.S. Cities Targeted by International Operation

Attorney General John AshcroftAttorney General John Ashcroft today joined DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson to unveil an unprecedented takedown of Internet-based drug-trafficking operations. Operation Webslinger, a multi-jurisdictional investigation, targeted the illegal internet trafficking of "date rape" drugs such as GHB and its derivatives, GBL and 1,4 Butanediol (1,4 BD).

The Drug Enforcement Administration, together with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs Service, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Ontario Police Department, announced the arrest of 115 individuals in 84 cities across the United States and Canada.

GHB, GBL, and 1, 4 Butanediol (1,4 BD) are abused to produce euphoria, intoxication, and hallucinogenic states, and for their alleged role as a muscle growth hormone. They are also used as "date rape" drugs, acting as central nervous system depressants. Odorless and colorless, the drugs cause drowsiness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and loss of inhibition, as well as memory impairment--which can make the prosecution of rape cases difficult when victims are given these drugs. Higher doses of these substances will cause unconsciousness, seizures, severe respiratory depression, coma, and even death.

"This takedown is a dose of harsh reality for drug traffickers who seek to exploit the vast markets and anonymity of cyberspace," said Attorney General Ashcroft. "Our campuses, our neighborhoods, and our communities are safer places for young women today because cyberspace just got more dangerous for drug traffickers."

DEA Administrator Asa HutchinsonDEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson added, "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. E-traffickers can expect to face the same justice the old-fashioned drug dealers face."

This two-year investigation began as a result of increasing seizures of GBL and 1,4 BD. It represents law enforcement's most significant national operation targeting organizations trafficking in GHB, GBL, and 1,4 BD. Operation Webslinger is also the most significant enforcement effort targeting drug traffickers using the internet to buy and sell dangerous drugs and chemicals.

Operation Webslinger encompasses four primary investigations in St. Louis, MO; Detroit, MI and San Diego, CA; Mobile, AL and Sparta, TN; and Buffalo, NY and Quebec City, Canada. These investigations targeted individuals and organizations supplying large quantities of GHB, GBL, and/or 1,4 BD ordered over the internet and delivered by the mail. From these four investigations, agents developed leads that led to the identification and arrest of individuals across the country involved in buying and selling these drugs. All totaled, agents conducted enforcement operations in over 80 U.S. cities with drug seizures that could have yielded more than 25 million dosage units.

Chief U.S Postal Inspector Lee Heath added, "The nationwide sweep to apprehend the customers of Pelchat Labs began yesterday and is continuing. Postal Inspectors have made controlled deliveries in locations all over the country and more arrests are expected."

U.S. Customs Assistant Commissioner for Investigations John Varrone said, "Operation Webslinger was unprecedented in that it combined the best investigative techniques of numerous federal agencies and Canadian authorities. I am especially proud of the U.S. Customs agents in Buffalo who played a major role in this investigation. Customs agents seized more than 750 packages containing GBL, helped shut down an internet site selling this substance, seized three labs, and arrested 35 individuals."

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III stated, "This investigation strikes a blow to those who deal these drugs, which pose a danger to young people across the nation. Like any illicit drug, a consequence of use is death, and we will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners to combat this problem."

Operation Webslinger was coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Administration's joint law enforcement program called the Special Operations Division, which is comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, USCS, and IRS, as well as attorneys from the Department of Justice's Criminal Division. Additionally, numerous state and local agencies across the United States provided invaluable service leading to the successful outcome of this operation.

For additional information, please contact Special Agents Will Glaspy or Thomas Hinojosa at DEA's Office of Public Affairs at (202) 307-7977.


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