Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Operation Webslinger Announcement
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Thank you, Asa, for your outstanding leadership. Today's announcement is a dose of harsh reality for drug traffickers who seek to exploit the vast markets and anonymity of cyberspace. Thanks to the extraordinary cooperation of U.S. and Canadian federal, state, provincial and local law enforcement, the internet is no longer a safe haven where drug dealers can hide. Our campuses, our neighborhoods and our communities are safer places for young women today because cyberspace just got more dangerous for drug traffickers.
Contrary to misinformation disseminated via the internet, the drugs targeted in yesterday's arrests are extremely addictive and life-threatening. GHB, as well as the other drugs targeted in Operation Webslinger, GBL and 1,4 Butanediol, cause hallucinations, respiratory depression, coma, and even death. As Administrator Hutchinson has explained, the DEA has documented over 70 deaths from these drugs, as well as thousands of non-death overdoses.
These drugs are frequently used at "rave parties" on college campuses and nightclubs, and have had devastating consequences, particularly to young women who have fallen victim to date rape after unwittingly consuming the chemicals.
These arrests make it clear that those who use the internet to conduct illegal drug transactions will be investigated, apprehended and prosecuted.
The success of Operation Webslinger is the result of close cooperation among a number of federal agencies. This coordinated effort is a multi-district, multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation (OCDETF) coordinated by the Special Operations Division at the Drug Enforcement Administration. As the cornerstone of the Justice Department's drug strategy, OCDETF brings together the expertise of various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target entire networks of organized drug traffickers - such as those trafficking in GHB - from the top down.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Service, the United States Customs Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the National Drug Intelligence Center, the Department of Justice Criminal Division, and their jointly staffed Special Operations Division all contributed to today's arrests.
I thank Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson for his leadership of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force. I would like to recognize the hard work of the attorneys in the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Department's Criminal Division, as well as the United States Attorneys' Offices across the country and numerous state and local police departments throughout the United States. I would also like to recognize the invaluable assistance of Canadian Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay, Director Giuliano Zaccardelli of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Ontario Provincial Police. I commend you all for your service.
Nothing does more to diminish our potential -- both as individuals and as a nation -- than illegal drug use. In an era in which we know more than ever before about the ravages of drug abuse, surrender is not -- and cannot be -- an option. In cooperation with our international counterparts and our partners in state and local law enforcement, the Department of Justice is committed to protecting our young people - and our nation - from the destructive force of illegal drugs.