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Published On: April 24, 2001          Updated On: August 15, 2001
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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Florida Conference On Designer Drugs
April 2001

In April of 2001 a conference was held to inform Florida's law enforcement community about the trends and dangers surrounding Designer Drugs.  The state-wide conference was co-sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area/Central Florida Investigative Support Center, the Orange County Sheriff's Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  

The conference provided excellent information about the law enforcement aspects of drug enforcement.  Unfortunately, the conference was based on the assumption that the abusers of designer drug are primarily criminals who need to be punished.  

Tim Moore, the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that "the complexity of Florida's designer drug problem demands a three-prong approach which targets prevention/education, enhanced substance abuse treatment and intensified law enforcement."  In spite lf this, the conference focused mainly on the law enforcement aspect.  It  failed to represent the scientific fact that people who become dependent on designer drugs have an addictive brain disease and require treatment.  It did not adequately highlight the fact that the the most effective policies for controlling substance abuse involve a close working relationship between law enforcement, the courts, and community based treatment providers to assure that all nonviolent drug abusers receive no-nonsense drug treatment that follow science-based guidelines for treatment effectiveness.  

The failure of law enforcement in isolation from community-based prevention and treatment initiatives is highlighted in Commissioner Moore's Statement: "Despite the efforts of law enforcement across the state, drugs are readily available, more accepted and still as dangerous as ever." 

Hopefully, future law enforcement conferences will present a more balanced view point that incorporates the powerful role that mandatory monitored treatment can play in managing the national and state drug abuse problems.

Terence T. Gorski
August 15, 2001

Florida Conference On Designer Drugs

News Release of the 
Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Florida's Statewide Conference on Designer Drugs 
Focuses on Trends in Trafficking, Sale and Distribution

April 24, 2001

Recognizing the need to educate Florida's law enforcement community about the trends and dangers surrounding Designer Drugs, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area/Central Florida Investigative Support Center, the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are co-sponsoring the Statewide Conference on Designer Drugs at the Altamonte Springs Hilton, 350 S. Northlake Boulevard, today.

This one-day conference, from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., will primarily focus on strategies to combat the trafficking, sale and distribution of designer or synthetic drugs. This is an effort to bring together law enforcement officials and personnel from local, state and federal agencies in the fight against the manufacturing and use of these deadly drugs.

FDLE's Orlando Regional Operations Center Director Joyce Dawley said, "Unfortunately, Designer Drugs are all too popular in our communities and to so many of our young people. They are presenting a new challenge to law enforcement and we must be proactive in fighting these deadly and extremely profitable drugs. This conference is our collective approach to that goal."

Deaths associated with the use of designer drugs, such as Ecstasy (MDMA), PMA, GHB, Ketamine and Rohypnol, and an increase in arrests and seizures have not gone unnoticed in Florida.

According to the Florida Medical Examiners report "Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons" released recently by FDLE, 229 people died in 2000 from designer drug usage.  Additionally, some form of a designer drugs was found in 729 people at the time of death last year.

Between 1996-2000, MDMA arrests in Florida increased 430% with 461 arrests. There were 29 GHB arrests last year, and while this number seems relatively low when compared to arrests more "popular" drugs, this represents an increase of 2000% since 1996.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently reported that between October 1999 and September 2000 2.4 million Ecstasy pills were seized in Florida, and between October 2000 and March 2001, 2.27 million Ecstasy pills have been seized.
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In recognizing these disturbing trends, the 2000 Florida Legislature enhanced penalties related to designer drugs, and FDLE, in conjunction with law enforcement agencies in the Tallahassee area, created the Big Bend Designer Drug Task Force. This cooperative investigative effort, with members for FDLE, Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff's Office, Florida A & M University Police Department and Florida State University Police Department, was formed to curb the distribution of designer drugs in the college town.

"This task force has made great strides in the six months since its inception," said FDLE's Tallahassee Regional Director Tom McInerney. "We have 60 trafficking investigations and have made some significant arrests.  Because we are in a town where students generally outnumber the rest of the community, it is important that we be proactive in protecting them from the extreme dangers associated with designer drugs."

FDLE participates in similar types of task forces across the state.

"The complexity of Florida's designer drug problem demands a three-prong approach which targets prevention/education, enhanced substance abuse treatment and intensified law enforcement. Today, we focus on the law enforcement aspect," said FDLE Commissioner Tim Moore. "Despite the efforts of law enforcement across the state, drugs are readily available, more accepted and still as dangerous as ever."

For more information, contact:

Nikki Frenney
FDLE Office of Public Information
(407) 540-3805 or (407) 448-0978

Al Dennis
Public Information Director
Public Information Office
FDLE
(850) 410-7001

 

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