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  • ‘Date rape’ drug targeted in 84-city Internet sweep
    By Associated Press – Sep 9 2002

    Copyright: Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Authorities broke up four Internet drug-trafficking rings operating in the United States and Canada, making more than 100 arrests and seizing enough chemicals for 25 million doses of the “date rape” drug GHB and similar substances.

    The two-day sweep in 84 cities is “a dose of harsh reality for drug traffickers who seek to exploit the vast markets and anonymity of cyberspace,” Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday.

    Federal, state and local police began the investigation, called Operation Webslinger, two years ago. It ranged from Internet drug rings in St. Louis; Detroit and San Diego; Mobile, Ala., and Sparta, Tenn.; and Buffalo, N.Y., and Quebec City.

    Relying on Web sites and personal e-mail accounts to reach out to their customers, the dealers disguised what they were selling by naming their products “Blue Raine” ink jet printing supplies and “TonerCleen cleaning solution,” investigators told a news conference at Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters in Arlington, Va.

    Word of the Web sites has spread quickly in the past few years, particularly among teenagers and young adults frequenting the club scene. The site locations could even be found scrawled on bathroom walls, investigators said.

    Education efforts by law enforcement agencies and the government have been aimed at warning women about sexual predators who could spike their drinks with the colorless, odorless drugs, which cause drowsiness, dizziness and loss of inhibition.

    GHB and its derivatives, GBL and 1,4 Butanediol or BD, are industrial solvents that have killed 72 drug users, said DEA Director Asa Hutchinson.

    Marketing dangerous drugs on the Web “should not, and will not, be as simple as point-and-click,” said Hutchinson, who noted the components of GHB are used in floor stripping fluid.

    Investigators seized over $1 million in cash and property from the four drug rings, and 3,000 gallons of GHB and the other two substances.

    Daniel Pelchat of St. Etienne, Quebec, described by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Kennedy in Buffalo as one of the biggest providers of GHB in the world, was indicted for unlawful use of the Internet and importation of GBL and BD after 1,452 gallons of the chemicals were seized Wednesday from his business and residence.

    The ring operating in Detroit and San Diego relied on personal e-mail accounts and word of mouth to market its products. The alleged San Diego connection to the ring, Larry Waychoff, is a fugitive.

    The Missouri network, an Internet company called Miracle Cleaning Products, sold to customers in 41 states and was allegedly run by a mother-and-son team, Cassandra Harvey, 53, of Festus, Mo., and Joshua Harvey. The Harveys were being held Thursday and awaited a detention hearing Monday in St. Louis.

    The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Customs Service and the FBI were the other federal agencies participating in the investigation.






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Forums Life Computers, Gadgets & Technology The Internet US: GHB targeted in 84-city Internet sweep – September 2002