Californian's Overdose Leads to Arrest in Phoenix and Seizure of 1,100 Gallons of Illegal Narcotic

Multi-gallon quantities of GBL delivered to buyers after orders received via Internet

Thursday, March 16, 2000
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SAN JOSE) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced today that Special Agents from his Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) San Jose Regional office, working with Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Phoenix, Arizona office, have arrested a man and seized twenty-eight 55-gallon drums of Gamma Butyrolactone (GBL), an analog of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB).

Michael B. Hall, 31, was arrested yesterday at his residence in Phoenix, where agents discovered 28 drums containing 1,100 gallons of GBL, equipment and chemicals associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine, and a number of pipe bombs. Hall was armed with a handgun at the time of his arrest. Hall is being held on $5 million bail and will be charged with multiple counts of transportation and sale of a controlled substance upon his return to California.

The case was initiated after a February 8, 2000 overdose in Palo Alto that led BNE agents to the discovery of an Internet site advertising multi-gallon quantities of GBL for sale. BNE Agents placed an "order" over the Internet for a 55-gallon drum of GBL which was delivered via commercial carrier and falsely labeled as a dietary supplement. Over the last several weeks, BNE Agents have taken delivery of a number of other multi-gallon Internet orders of GBL, all of which have led to the Phoenix residence of Hall, where there is evidence that he shipped multi-gallon orders for GBL to numerous recipients in California and other parts of the country. The amount of GBL seized could yield an estimated 6.5 million doses of GBL. The 1,100 gallons of GBL seized in Phoenix has a wholesale value of more than $8.3 million.

GHB is a central nervous system depressant which can also cause hallucinations. A number of deaths have been attributed to overdoses of GHB since 1995. Most commonly found in liquid form, it is usually mixed with water, alcohol, juice, or a soft drink, and is often found at "Rave" parties. GHB is classified as a Federal Schedule I drug with no current medical use. GBL is an analog of GHB that, when ingested, is converted by the body to GHB. GBL is a strong chemical solvent, and is used as an ingredient in varnish removal and engine de-greasing products. The drug is usually sold for $10 per dose on the street, making the retail value of the amount seized an estimated $65 million.

"GHB and GBL are dangerous drugs that are primarily sold to young people on the promise of providing a harmless high," said Lockyer. "In this case, large quantities were sold via the Internet. The message to American drug dealers is clear, law enforcement will find, arrest and prosecute you whether you peddle your poison on street corners or in cyber-space."

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