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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release [print friendly page]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2001

Operation Green Clover

TOP FEDERAL DRUG OFFICIAL ANNOUNCES MAJOR ECSTASY BUST

FOUR FEDERAL INDICTMENTS IN COLORADO NAME 37 DEFENDANTS:
INCLUDING THREE WHO SOLD AN ECSTASY TABLET RESULTING IN DEATH

photo of a MDMA Laboratory
MDMA Laboratory

 

photo of a MDMA Tableting Machine
MDMA Tableting Machine

DENVER- Asa Hutchinson, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Richard T. Spriggs, United States Attorney for the District of Colorado, today announced the arrest of 55 defendants in Colorado and California involved in distributing "club drugs." The arrests are the result of a one year investigation called "Operation Green Clover," named after a specific type of Ecstasy tablet. Administrator Hutchinson and U.S. Attorney Spriggs were joined by representatives from Colorado Springs military installations as well as state and local law enforcement. The club drug distribution network was thought to have been a primary source of Ecstasy in Colorado.

A federal grand jury in Denver, Colorado last week returned four indictments charging 37 defendants with conspiracy and distribution of club drugs, including MDMA (commonly known as Ecstasy), Ketamine (commonly known as "Special K"), LSD and marijuana. The indictments were unsealed following yesterday's arrests during an all day enforcement action, which included the execution of search warrants. During the course of the investigation in Colorado and California, authorities seized approximately 85,000 Ecstasy tablets, 2.5 kilograms of cocaine, 320 pounds and 4100 plants of marijuana, 5 pounds of methamphetamine, 40,000 dosage units of LSD, $1,360,000 in U.S. currency, 13 vehicles and 36 weapons.

photo of Administrator Hutchinson“This remarkable effort highlights law enforcement’s commitment to the safety of our children and young adults and to bringing to justice those individuals who wish to destroy the lives of their families and friends.” DEA will not rest in its effort to educate the citizens of this country about the deadly consequences of club drugs and how these drugs devastate dreams and promising futures.” Asa Hutchinson, Administrator


photo of different tablet MDMA logos

photo of different tablet MDMA logos

MDMA Logos

Producers and traffickers of MDMA seek to differentiate their product from others by imprinting the tablets with “brand” logos or symbols. The logos are generally popular images, such as smiley faces and cartoon characters, or brand names, such as “Rolls Royce” and “Mitsubishi.” These recognizable logos contribute to the notion that Ecstasy is a relatively harmless drug. During 1999, the Dutch USD seized Ecstasy with 128 different logos.

One of the more popular logos, “Mitsubishi,” has been seized throughout Europe and internationally. According to EUROPOL, more than 6.5 million tablets bearing the “Mitsubishi” logo have been seized since the organization began collecting logo data. When one “brand” of Ecstasy develops a reputation of quality, other MDMA producers will utilize the same logo-punch in order to gain market-share. This does not, however, ensure that the chemical composition or active ingredients of the tablets are the same. “Regular customers” who place large orders are reportedly able to special order Ecstasy from the producers and can request customized logos for their tablets.

Three defendants, JOHN D. SPOSIT (DOB 3/18/1975) of Lakewood, Colorado, MEGAN M. SCHEY (DOB 10/5/1976) of Fort Collins, Colorado, and SHAWN SWEENEY (DOB 11/22/1980) of Fort Collins, Colorado were charged with knowingly distributing an Ecstasy pill, the use of which resulted in the death of a teenage girl from Colorado. When the distribution of illegal drugs results in death, the offense is punishable by up to life in prison.

photo of a MDMA User at a Rave PartySPOSIT, along with MARK B. MERTON a/k/a MARK B. WILLIAMS (DOB 11/16/1971) of Aurora, Colorado and VLADISLA V RADOSA VLJEVIC (DOB 10/13/1972) of Littleton, Colorado were also charged under the "Drug Kingpin" statute with running a Continuing Criminal Enterprise. Operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise is defined as a person working in concert with at least five others, occupying a supervisory position, and obtaining substantial income or resources from trafficking in controlled substances. A conviction under the Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute carries a minimum prison sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Indicted for conspiracy to possess Ketamine and possession with intent to distribute Ketamine, a controlled substance commonly used as a large animal tranquilizer, are:

MARK B. MERTON (DOB 11/16/1971) of Aurora, Colorado
ALEXANDER S. RECTOR (DOB 4/19/1968) of Denver, Colorado
WILL LANCASTER (DOB unknown) of Henderson, Nevada

Indicted for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and use of a communication facility in facilitating the distribution of marijuana, are:

JOHN D. SPOSIT (DOB 3/18/1975) of Lakewood, Colorado
NATHAN J. KERN (DOB 12/10/1978) of Rohnert Park, California
DAVID LOGIN (DOB 12/18/1949) of Santa Rosa, California

The following individuals are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Ecstasy:

JOHN D. SPOSIT (DOB 3/18/1975) of Lakewood, Colorado
CORY W. DYNES (DOB 8/1/1979) of Denver, Colorado
MEGAN M. SCHEY (DOB 10/5/1976) of Fort Collins, Colorado
REYNALDO R. MENDOZA (DOB 4/8/1977) of Colorado Springs, Colorado
SHAWN SWEENEY (DOB 11/22/1980) of Fort Collins, Colorado
NATHAN J. KERN (DOB 12/10/1978) of Rohnert Park, California
SHAWN HARTNETT (DOB 1/28/1980) of Petaluma, California
JUSTIN C. L YNES (DOB 4/1/1980) of Colorado Springs, Colorado
RYAN J. KRUEGER, 1/16/1977 of Security, Colorado
DANIEL MCDERMOTT (DOB unknown) of Aurora, Colorado
FRANK E. EDMONDS (DOB 2/11/1975) of Colorado Springs
LIANA R. PARISI a/k/a LIANA WETTLAUFER (DOB 10/28/1974) of Denver, Colorado
NATHAN W. BURRESS (DOB 8/11/1980) of Englewood, Colorado
LISA RAINEY (DOB 9/14/1967) of Aurora, Colorado
TONY "G" LNU (last name unknown) of Thornton, Colorado
MARK B. MERTON (DOB 11/16/1971) of Aurora
VLADISLAV RADOSAVLJEVIC (DOB 10/13/1972) of Littleton, Colorado
ELIJAH D. WILLIAMS (DOB 2/24/1980) of Denver
CHAD D. KELL Y (DOB 2/21/1977) of Aurora, Colorado
JUAN JOSE CEJA-PONCE a/k/a ORLANDO (DOB 8/21/1975) of Henderson, Colorado
JASON M. PRICE (DOB 10/7/1974) of Denver, Colorado
PETER TIAMZON (DOB 1/5/1977) of Thornton, Colorado
STANLEY COREY JACKSON (DOB 4/20/1971) of Denver, Colorado
JIMMY D. GRAHAM (DOB 10/11/1963) of Bailey, Colorado
BRADLEY A. BENHAM (DOB 10/16/1970) of Denver, Colorado
DANIEL J. CHUM (DOB 3/28/1981) of Westminster, Colorado
DOUGLAS D. FRITCHEL (DOB 6/17/1958) of Loveland, Colorado
LORETTA LIM (DOB 9/3/1981) of Westminster, Colorado
KERBIN G. SHARP (DOB 7/6/1957) of Craig, Colorado
CHRISTIE M. SLOAN (DOB 12/7/1978) of Lakewood, Colorado
CANDI JEAN VASTLIK (DOB 12/7/1978) of Lakewood, Colorado
DONOVAN GARCIA (DOB 11/23/1968) of Denver, Colorado
CORY ROGERS (DOB 2/6/1978) of Denver, Colorado
TOBY LNU (last name unknown) of Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Scheduling of MDMA

MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxy- methamphetamine), also known as Ecstasy, was first synthesized in Germany circa 1912 and patented in 1914; however, it was never marketed. Since that time, MDMA has been inconclusively evaluated for clinical use and briefly considered as an appetite suppressant. Concerns regarding abuse prompted officials in the United States and the United Kingdom to place the drug on their controlled substances lists. In the United States, the DEA initiated the emergency designation of MDMA as a controlled substance in June 1985. In 1988, MDMA was classified in the United States as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. In the United Kingdom, the family of amphetamine drugs was scheduled through the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. MDMA, specifically, was scheduled in 1977 through a Modification Order. Other European countries followed, with the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy, to name a few, listing MDMA as a controlled substance in 1988.

Know the Signs

Effects of stimulant club drugs such as MDMA and Methamphetamine

* Increased heart rate
* Convulsions
* Extreme rise in body temperature
* Uncontrollable movements
* Insomnia
* Impaired speech
* Dehydration
* High blood pressure
* Grinding teeth

Some of the defendants are also charged with distribution of Ecstasy, possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy, and unlawful use of a communications facility in facilitating the distribution of Ecstasy.

MCDERMOTT is also charged with possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. SPOSIT also faces a charge of distribution of LSD. MERTON, WILLIAMS, KELLY, and RADOSA VLJEVIC are also charged with Interstate travel or use of a facility in aid of racketeering.

If convicted, the various defendants face maximum sentences from four years to life in federal prison and fines ranging from $250,000 to $4 million.

Numerous law enforcement agencies participated in the case, which started as several individual investigations and culminated in one comprehensive investigation. Assisting the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney's Office were: the U.S. Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Ft. Carson, Boulder County Drug Task Force, Larimer County Drug Task Force, West Metro Task Force, Front Range Task Force, Colorado Springs and Denver Police Departments, El Paso County Sheriffs Office, and the Boulder District Attorney's Office.

These charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Historical Background

In the late 1980s, a distinctive kind of music and dancing known as “acid house” or “techno” emerged on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza, known as “XTC Island,” a vacation destination popular with British youth and young adults. During the summer of 1988, the techno phenomenon took root in the United Kingdom as thousands of aficionados gathered to create what has been called Britain’s “Summer of Love.” These music-and-laser-light dance parties evolved into events known as “raves,” which were organized each weekend in warehouses and fields throughout England. To maintain the frenetic round-the-clock pace of this high-decibel, synthesized musical environment, participants turned to Ecstasy.

The decade of the 1990s was marked by unprecedented growth in the demand for MDMA. Known by the street names Ecstasy, E, Adam, Empathy, or XTC, it gained popularity with rave- and club-goers across the United States as the “feel good” drug, inducing feelings of solidarity, openness, and contentment. The use of Ecstasy, however, may have long-lasting negative effects on the brain, such as altered memory function and diminished motor skills.



The Effects of Ecstasy

MDMA is a stimulant with mild hallucinogenic properties. It is generally administered in pill or capsule form, though it may also be sniffed, snorted, injected, or used in suppository form. The 2- to 8-hour high, or “roll,” usually is produced within 15 minutes of administration. Users are said to be “rolling” while under the influence of Ecstasy.

Rave-goers use the drug not only to sustain their frenetic pace during the all-night dance parties, but also to “feel good” and enhance the rave experience. Users maintain that Ecstasy amplifies the visual and tactile senses and produces feelings of well-being, contentment, empathy, and love. To magnify the effects of Ecstasy, users often inhale menthol products to stimulate dilated bronchi, and gaze at rapidly moving lights or glo-sticks to enhance visual acuity.

The “feel-good” effects produced by the use of Ecstasy, coupled with its consumption in tablet form, leads many users to believe that the drug is relatively harmless. However, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), MDMA users face psychological risks similar to those associated with amphetamines and cocaine, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug cravings, severe anxiety, and paranoia. Recent research findings also link prolonged Ecstasy use to damage to those parts of the brain responsible for thought and memory.

The physical symptoms of Ecstasy are many, and vary depending on the individual and other substances consumed. MDMA use increases heart rate and blood pressure. It causes involuntary teeth clenching, which users often attempt to prevent with pacifiers or lollipops; muscle tension; nausea; blurred vision; rapid eye movement; and fainting. As the body overheats, inducing sweating and dehydration, MDMA users consume large amounts of water. Dehydration, coupled with inadequate ventilation at many rave locations, have contributed to many MDMA-related deaths.

 

cover photo of brochure
Parents, to help you learn more about club drugs, DEA collaborated with other components of the Department of Justice to produce a brochure titled, Tips for Parents: The Truth About Club Drugs.

www.ojp.usdoj.gov/docs/clubdrug.pdf

To see an extended list of publications related to Club Drugs, click here:

www.ncjrs.org/club_drugs/publications.html

The following links provide more information about drug abuse:

www.casacolumbia.org = National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse
www.nida.nih.gov = National Institute on Drug Abuse
www.drugfreeamerica.org = Partnership for a Drug-Free America

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