"Metric tonne" of date rape drug was bound for US

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Friday, June 2, 2006


Scottish police have arrested a man and a woman after finding Britain's largest ever stash of Gamma-butyrolactone. The man in charge of the operation, Graeme Pearson, director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, called the find "the most significant discovery of the drug in the UK."

The drug GHB in powder form

Denise Caron MacPherson, 45, and Hanan Rabin, 53, have been charged with exporting the drug, also known as GHB, to the United States between 19 April and 24 May. The news of the Scottish factory comes as a US study found drug use was involved in two-thirds of sex attacks, while 5 per cent were given an actual "date rape" drug.

Graham Rhodes for The Roofie Foundation, a helpline for victims of drug rape, said: "I am very relieved this has been recovered as in the wrong hands it is very dangerous. Not only is it used to spike the drinks of people to rape them but it's also used to assault and rob people."

Used by ravers, robbers and bodybuilders, the base chemical (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) was taken during a raid on a house and business in West Lothian. The haul would have been put on the United States illicit drug market and sold for fun and more sinister purposes.

In its non-powder form GHB is barely detectable: clear and having no smell it can be particularly potent with a few drops mixed into an alcoholic drink. Once a sufficient amount of the salty liquid has been ingested the victim can be knocked out within an hour.

While GHB is known both as "liquid ecstasy" and the date rapist's "Plan A", the versatile compound is also used by body builders instead of anabolic steroids, by dieters and as a sleeping aid.

In Britain, GHB is a "Class C" drug which means making it, holding it and selling it is punishable with up to two years in prison. The effects of rape, for which the drug is reportedly used, can last a lifetime. Jane Cumming, from support group Crisis, said she received an average of 4 calls a week from people claiming to be victims of date rape.

The pair, who were caught in Livingston, were accused of distributing the drug in Scotland from MacPherson's house around the same time as they were exporting to the United States, while MacPherson was also charged with Cannabis possession.

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