Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Snoopy are no longer just the faces of colorful cartoon images. They have also become the images printed on many pills reported to be ecstasy, said Bob Stutman during his lecture in the Marshall Center Ballroom on Monday night.
Stutman worked as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration for 25 years, seven of which he spent undercover. He retired 10 years ago and conducts lectures nationwide concerning drugs through programs such as the University Lecture Series. He also wrote the book “Dead on Delivery,” which was turned into the Showtime movie Mob Justice. And according to Stutman, a Colombian Cartel once targeted him for assassination because of his work for the DEA.
In his lecture entitled “Ecstasy, : It’s not a state of mind,” he explained that cartoon figures or peace signs marked on the pills meant nothing about their quality.
“Unlike Tylenol with the symbol that lets you know it’s valid, these pills are just a powder pumped through a machine with that symbol,” he said. “As a DEA agent, I bought drugs from the highest cartels and had them tested, and 30 percent of the time the drug was not what it was reported to be. Instead, most pills are bunk,” he said.
A bunk drug, he said, is ecstasy mixed with other drugs, such as PCP or LSD to name a few.
He added that recently three million drugs were seized with the Snoopy logo on them, and of those pills, they found 350 different chemicals in them.
He also warned against self-test scams such as those available from the E-Z Web Sites.
“I can guarantee our field tests are much more accurate than these tests, but even our tests are only 50 to 60 percent accurate,” he said. “So someone may score a drug, scrape it in the E-Z tester and think it’s OK, when they are really getting something entirely different.”
He said the average college student who buys drugs gets a pill that has already been distributed among eight drug dealers worldwide, so it’s unknown what is included in the drugs they are taking until they experience the side effects.
While ecstasy use everywhere is on a continuous incline, he said Tampa is one of the largest consumers of ecstasy in the nation on a per-capita basis.
He said people are seduced by the drug because they enjoy the immediate euphoria ecstasy offers, and they believe it is a “free-ride” drug without side effects. On the contrary, ecstasy is the most dangerous drug available. This is because it changes the chemical composition of the brain by releasing high levels of serotonin and blocking them from being absorbed by the brain. Thus the serotonin is left to “eat away” at the neurons, which is the control center for the nervous system, distorting the brain’s profile, he said.
“One-time use of ecstasy has been found to cause measurable changes in the brain for up to seven years,” he said. “And the studies have only been done for seven years, so the effects may remain longer.”
He also said a majority of the research is available through Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Oxford University.
“Do not make a mistake (by taking the drug) on no knowledge, stupid knowledge or peer pressure,” he said. “If you don’t believe (the dangers of the drug), look up the journals and you’ll see (the drug) isn’t a free-ride.”