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2002: Operation Web Slinger: DEA busts online GBL stores

By Alfa, Apr 21, 2012 | | |
  1. Alfa
    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 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.

    News Release
    January 30, 2004

    Shirley A. Armstead, Special Agent
    Public Information Officer
    Office: 314-538-4752

    Missouri Mother and Son are Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms on Drug Conspiracy Charges

    “This is the first internet drug distribution case prosecuted in this district,” said U.S. Attorney Ray Gruender.

    St. Louis, Missouri: A Festus area mother and son were sentenced to prison this morning on charges of conspiracy to distribute for human consumption 1,4-butanediol, an analogue of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (commonly known as GHB), William J. Renton, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the DEA St. Louis Division and United States Attorney Ray Gruender and announced today.

    This case was part of a nationwide Drug Enforcement Administration operation known as “Operation Webslinger” coordinated by their joint law enforcement program called the Special Operations Division, which is comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and IRS, as well as attorneys from the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. Locally, the Drug Enforcement Administration was assisted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the St. Louis County and Festus, Missouri Police Departments. Assistant United States Attorneys James Delworth and John Davis handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    According to William J. Renton, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the DEA St. Louis Division, today’s sentencing of Cassandra and Joshua Harvey represents a major victory in the fight against club and predatory drugs. These defendants were part of Operation WEBSLINGER, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s most significant national investigation to date targeting a prolific trafficking organization distributing GHB, GBL and 1-4 BD, all of which can be used as date rape drugs. This operation developed evidence sufficient to convict these traffickers with using the internet and the anonymity of cyberspace to distribute these dangerous drugs. Through this investigation, DEA was able to track these predatory drugs and their analogues from legitimate chemical wholesalers to the Harvey’s, who then packaged the drugs for both wholesale and retail distribution. Through this international investigation DEA was able to bring charges against 175 individuals in North America and Europe and to slow the spread of these highly dangerous controlled substances.

    CASSANDRA HARVEY, 54, of the 100 block of North 2nd Street, Festus, Missouri, was sentenced to168 months in prison. Her son and co-defendant, JOSHUA HARVEY, 24, of the 1300 block of Scenic Drive, Herculaneum, Missouri, was sentenced to100 months in prison. There is no parole in the federal system. They appeared this morning before United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton. On October 28, 2003, each defendant pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to distribute 1,4 butanediol, an analog of (GHB). Additionally, both defendants pled guilty to a forfeiture count, and this morning Judge Hamilton ordered the forfeiture of various items that were acquired from this drug conspiracy. Items to be forfeited are $319,000 in U.S. currency, three vehicles, jewelry, firearms, coins and real estate, which were acquired from this drug conspiracy. More than 2000 gallons of 1,4- butanediol and $300,000 cash were seized at the time of their arrest.

    Cassandra Harvey and her son, Joshua Harvey, operated a business over the internet by maintaining a web site that offered 1,4 butanediol for sale under the guise of a cleaning product utilizing the name “Miracle Organic Solvent.” However, both mother and son admitted with their pleas in October that they knew the product they sold was being used for human consumption. Cassandra Harvey had the principle role in the business and Joshua was an active, knowing employee.

    Their internet site advertised 1,4 butanediol as a cleaning product with various uses including spot remover, paint stripper and as a cleaning agent for computer circuit boards, grating and brickwork and tile. Cassandra Harvey received the 1,4 butanediol in 55 gallon drums from chemical manufacturers by falsifying her intended end use of the product. The Harveys admitted to the distribution of more than 10,000,000 dosage units. This amount of 1,4 butanediol represents the approximately 2000 gallons seized from storage facilities utilized by Cassandra Harvey and the total internet sales of 1,4 butanediol.

    1,4- butanediol is a chemical intermediate generally classified as a captive use product; that is, it is not intended for residential consumers, but is used in the manufacture of other products. 1,4- butanediol is an analogue of GHB. The chemical structure of 1,4 butanediol is substantially similar to GHB, and when ingested into the human body, converts into GHB. GHB popularly known as “G” is a schedule one depressant. It has a euphoric effect similar to alcohol intoxication. It can also have an amnesiac affect, and for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as a date rape drug. Mismanagement of the dosage units of GHB is very dangerous and can lead to tragic results. Over 72 deaths have been attributed to GHB nationwide.


  1. Alfa
    Its old news. I know, but we need to have this on record. This bust wiped out all GBL webshops in the US at the time.
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