- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

Drug Enforcement Administration chief Asa Hutchinson will announce a major offensive today to curb the growing use of "club drugs," now being produced and sold in record numbers nationwide.
"Operation X-Out" will focus on identifying and dismantling organizations involved in the production, shipment and sale of the drugs. The DEA will team up with the medical community, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, National Foundation of Women Legislators and state officials to engage and educate the public on the drugs' dangers.
The program will be announced by Mr. Hutchinson during a news conference in Coronado, Calif., followed by a town hall meeting in San Diego involving San Diego County Medical Examiner Brian Blackbourne and San Diego Police Chief David Bejarano.
"Club drugs" is a widely used term for a number of illicit drugs most commonly found at nightclubs and all-night parties called "raves." Primary among them is Ecstasy, along with Ketamine and GHB, although many others are available on the rave circuit.
Because the abuse of club drugs is soaring and their use among teenagers has nearly doubled over the past four years, Mr. Hutchinson has sought to increase nationwide awareness of their dangers. DEA officials are concerned that the number of teenage abusers could double again in another five years, particularly with Ecstasy, largely driven by the inaccurate perception it is a harmless drug.
Ecstasy is the popular name for the stimulant methyldiocymethamphetamine (MDMA), which is often used at rock concerts and all-night raves. It suppresses the desire to eat, drink or sleep and can cause unconsciousness, seizures from heatstroke, heart failure, brain damage and death.
The DEA said Ecstasy, known on the street as XTC, go, X, Adam and hug drug, is distributed in tablet form, which often are imprinted with graphic designs or commercial logos. Ecstasy can also be crushed and snorted, injected or used in suppository form.
In 2000, more than 6.4 million people age 12 and older reported they had used Ecstasy at least once in their lives.
The vast majority of ecstasy consumed domestically is produced in Europe, the DEA said, although a limited number of Ecstasy laboratories operate in the United States. Law enforcement authorities seized 17 clandestine Ecstasy laboratories in the United States in 2001 compared with seven seized in 2000.
The DEA said it costs as little as 25 cents to 50 cents to manufacture an Ecstasy tablet in Europe, but the street value of that same tablet can be as high as $40, with a tablet typically selling for between $20 and $30.
Ketamine is known on the street as jet, super acid, special K, green, K and cat valium. It comes in a clear liquid and an off-white powder form. Marketed as a general anesthetic for human and veterinary use, the only known source of Ketamine is from pharmacies.
Recent news reports indicate a significant number of veterinary clinics are being robbed for their Ketamine stock. The DEA said a major source of Ketamine in the United States is Mexican pharmacies.
Ketamine, which costs between $20 and $25 per dose, can cause delirium, amnesia, depression and long-term memory and cognitive difficulties, the DEA said.
GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyric acid, is known on the street as liquid Ecstasy, scoop, easy lay, Georgia home boy, grievous bodily harm, liquid x and goop, and comes either as an odorless, colorless liquid or as a white powder.
Usually ingested in a liquid mixture, it is easy to manufacture and sells for $5 to $25 per capful. As of November 2000, the DEA documented 71 GHB-related deaths.
In lower doses, GHB causes drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and visual disturbances. At higher dosages, unconsciousness, seizures, severe respiratory depression and coma can occur.


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