Union Tribune

September 20, 2002 

Internet drug ring is broken
119 arrested in 84 cities for selling or using GHB, a 'date rape' drug

By Marisa Taylor 


A group of drug dealers used the anonymity of Web sites and chat
rooms to sell millions of doses of the "date rape" drug GHB, authorities said yesterday.

For at least two years their advertisements touted concoctions like
"Miracle Cleaning Products" and "Blue Raine" ink supplies. But they
were really selling GHB, which has been linked to 72 deaths in the
United States since 1996, according to the Drug Enforcement

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the arrests of 119 people
in 84 cities in the United States and Canada who are accused of using or selling the drug through the Internet operation.

Five San Diego residents, including a Web site designer and a man who identified himself as a free-lance disc jockey, were charged with helping distribute the drug.

"We see this drug as part of the club drug scene, and it's particularly heinous," said Jamie Zuieback, spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. "It's being used to facilitate drug-induced sexual assaults, like the kindly stranger who offers to drive you home."

On April 4, Poway High School graduate and Cal Poly freshman Brian
Gillis overdosed on GHB and died in his bed.

Gillis' family said he was not known to use drugs in high school and
even avoided parties if drugs and alcohol were involved. A search
warrant affidavit, however, said Gillis told a friend he had taken GHB that night.

GHB, which is also known as G, Scoop and Goop, is a mixture of
common industrial chemicals such as floor-cleaning agents. It acts as a central nervous system depressant and causes drowsiness, dizziness and loss of inhibition. Congress outlawed GHB three years ago.

Annie Korn, a youth advocate for San Diego's gay and lesbian
community, said that at least once a week she hears of someone being drugged with GHB at a San Diego club or bar after the drug is slipped into their drink. The drug is colorless and odorless in its liquid form. Sometimes it induces semi-consciousness. The victim can hear but is unable to move. Some victims pass out. In May, one victim woke up in the emergency room, Korn said.

In low doses, GHB is becoming increasingly popular among some
members of the gay community, said a bar owner in Hillcrest, who
asked to remain anonymous because he didn't want his customers to be scrutinized.

However, the drug isn't as popular as other club drugs like Ecstasy,
because club-goers are more wary of GHB's potential deadly side

"G scares people," the bar owner said. "It's more of an extreme,
experimental drug."

The drug is also said to be popular among bodybuilders who believe
the drug helps build strength.

Authorities identified at least 27 major suppliers i n San Diego, Detroit, St. Louis, Mobile, Ala., Buffalo, N.Y., Sparta, Tenn., and Quebec City, Canada.

A 36-year-old San Diego man, Lawrence Waychuff, was identified as a key drug supplier who worked chat rooms to market GHB, federal
officials said. Last night, Waychuff was still at large.

Waychuff, a computer consultant, worked closely with another
suspect, Paul Black of Detroit, who "ran a virtual drug store by using e-mail," said Joseph Keefe, head of special operations for the DEA.

Black was arrested on drug charges Wednesday.

Arrested in San Diego were John Evans, 36, Julian Stone, 30, Arnold
Bati, 33, and Jeff Quarante, 31. Bati identified himself as a free-lance disc jockey.

During the probe, dubbed Operation Webslinger, officials said they
seized the equivalent of more than 25 million doses of GHB and related chemicals. Each dose was measured as a capful, worth about $10, officials said.

While the illicit businesses may have been lucrative U.S. agents
seized $300,000 in cash from one suspected dealer Wednesday
most of the suspects appeared to live modestly, officials said.

Officials said they cracked the case using undercover investigators
who bought chemicals through the Web sites. Increasing seizures of
GHB "virtually flowing" across the border from Canada prompted the
investigation, U.S. Customs Service officials said.

According to the DEA, the suspected dealers routinely responded to
orders for large shipments of chemicals and drugs through the U.S.
Postal Service and UPS. A mother and a son working for the group in
St. Louis enlisted a workshop for the mentally disabled to help mix
chemicals, officials said.

Judi Clark, a Detroit woman who spoke at yesterday's news
conference, said her teen-age daughter was drugged three years ago by acquaintances who slipped GHB into her Mountain Dew on a night they planned to go to the movies.

It was a lethal dose, Clark said.

Samantha Reid died at 15. Her former acquaintances are now serving prison sentences for manslaughter.