E for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders
Appendix 1: Reference Section
- 91 Interview with Detective Chief Superintendent Tony White,
head of the drugs and money laundering branch of the National Criminal Intelligence
Service, which is under the control of the Home Office. At Spring Gardens,
- The drugs and money laundering branch of the NCIS collects and disseminates
information for both the police and customs. White spends a large part of
his time abroad coordinating activities with the police and customs officers
of other Governments.
- Over the past year there has been a 60% increase in the number of seizures
without any increase in the number of doses seized (144,000), implying that
the police were picking up dealers nearer the consumer end of the distribution
- White gave me a copy of a chart from the winter 1992/3 edition of Drugs
Arena, a glossy magazine published by the NCIS that is distributed exclusively
to drug law enforcement officers. The chart showed seizures of MDMA, MDA
and MDEA since 1990. He says that periods in which there were few seizures
of MDMA saw increased seizures of LSD, indicating that LSD and MDMA were
alternative drugs used by the same group of people.
- I asked whether police policy varied according to the dangers of the
particular drug, and what the policy towards Ecstasy was. White, who emphasised
that he could not speak for the police, replied that policy for action against
drugs was largely "political" in the sense that enforcement efforts
against drugs had to be weighed against other interests such as education,
health and community relations. Many drugs were associated with particular
ethnic groups and the police had to weigh up the damage that might be caused
to their relationships with these groups against the desirability of preventing
use of such drugs. However, there are no such problems with Ecstasy, so
police action is unfettered. The police response to particular drugs does
not depend so much on the precise dangers of the drug in question as on
the perceived public concern about the drug. Commander John O'Connor of
the Metropolitan Police says in a recent report that the policy of arresting
dealers has largely failed, and suggests going for the users instead. White
gave some support to this idea by saying that dealers would find no market
if there was no demand.
- Asked for his predictions of future trends in Ecstasy supply and use,
White said that British developments would depend on what happened in Holland.
I asked what the effect on British Ecstasy users would be if the Dutch tightened
up enforcement of their laws relating to MDMA. He replied that, in the short
term, there would be a further rise in amphetamines being sold as Ecstasy
and in the use of LSD and in the longer term, more manufacturing of MDMA
in Britain. I asked whether that would be a good thing, and he replied that
there was no easy solution: "It's like a war," he said. However,
there was now effective international control of precursor chemicals. He
also told me that anyone convicted of supply has all their assets confiscated
unless they can prove other sources of income.
- White says he believes it is a myth that Ecstasy users are a separate
group from those who use addictive drugs. He says that once a market for
any drug is established, users will switch to any other drug including addictive
and dangerous ones. He also believes that dealers mix addictive drugs in
with MDMA in order to get clients hooked. The best advice, he says, is "just
don't do it".
- Factories are set up in Britain and in Holland, typically by middle-aged
English criminals who have been to prison several times for such offences
as armed robbery. Dutchmen are also involved.
- White says police action is misunderstood when it comes to stopping
raves, as the use of drugs is a very minor motive. The reasons are, in order
of priority, (1) Public safety. (2) Public order. (3) Public Nuisance. (4)
Use of drugs. He believes that very little drug dealing goes on at raves,
because Ecstasy "takes about 4 hours to have its full effect"
and so users take it before they arrive at the rave. [In fact MDMA, MDA
and MDEA reach their full effect within about an hour.]
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