Police swoop on drugs-for-sale website

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THE National Criminal Intelligence Service is investigating the first drugs-for-sale website amid growing concern that the internet is proving an easy gateway for the sale and manufacture of illegal drugs.

Websites which publish recipes for new drugs are also being monitored by the NCIS, which is worried that the internet could trigger a wave of synthetic drugs.

More than 30 designer drugs available on the internet are so new that they are perfectly legal - because the legal process of adding them to lists of controlled drugs cannot keep up with the speed at which they are being created.

In March, an internet drugs-for-sale site appeared for a few days, offering a range of drugs, before being closed down. Sergeant Peter Miles at the NCIS synthetic drugs unit said: "We are now trying to trace the people placing these ads."

Much of the interest in new synthetic drugs can be traced to American chemist Alexander Shulgin, who has published two books on ecstasy-like drugs; many of his recipes are easily found on the internet.

Shulgin is a 73-year-old Californian chemist known as the Calvin Klein of designer drugs, and is credited with the ecstasy explosion.

Concern is growing that the use of the internet will make the sale of fake tablets more widespread - an estimated one million ecstasy pills are sold at raves. But many of these drugs are counterfeit. When ecstasy proved popular, other dealers muscled in, ripping off customers with fake pills by copying the original trade mark.

In an attempt to give the impression of quality, rave and dance drugs advertised on the internet are often stamped with known trade marks, such as Rolls-Royce, Mercedes, Rolex, Nike, Camel and Lacoste.

NCIS officers said that one ecstasy variant, 2CB - which is illegal - has already been found in Britain. An internet website exists which lists all its ingredients and states: "2CB is not exactly easy to make, but it is pretty straightforward.

"There aren't any very tricky reactions or especially messy procedures and the chemicals are not particularly suspicious to obtain."

One of the ads on a drugs-for-sale website offered a range of ecstasy (MDMA) and other synthetic drugs. The advert touted pills using their trade-mark brands and boasted: "ALL OTHER PILLS, you name it ... we got it."

Detective Constable Les Fiander of the NCIS squad is concerned that the publication of two underground drugs books by Shulgin, and the publication of his drugs recipes on the internet, will give drugs users an appetite for new synthetic drugs.

"It's a matter of concern that these recipes are in the public domain. It could make life easier for drug traffickers," he said.