Pubdate: Mon, 13 Mar 2000
Source: Hamburger Abendblatt (Germany)
Copyright: 2000 Hamburger Abendblatt
Contact:  Brieffach 2110, 20350 Hamburg
Fax: +49-40-347 261 10
Author: Kristina Johrde
Translator: Newshawk, Editor


Techno sound booms through the basement hollow. Sweating bodies dance to 
fast beats. The crowd is frenzied. It's Saturday night, just after midnight.
The techno scene is celebrating it's weekend at the Tunnel club on Grosse
Freiheit [red light district, tr.]. Then the sudden shock: bright lights,
an amplified voice booming "This is the police. Nobody moves. We're taking
over." It's a drug raid, and the party's over. Seventy police officers
storm the club in seconds. Nobody gets out, nobody gets in. Every person 
on the premises is searched. Those who offer any resistance have to stand
up agaist the black wall and spread arms and legs. Pills are thrown on the
ground, ditched at the last minute. The police confiscate 700 Ecstasy pills,
43  packs of speed and 40 bags of other, yet unidentified drugs. Twenty 
clubbers are temporarily arrested.

Those arrested are led to paddy wagons waiting outside. Everybody is
assigned a number and their pictures are taken. Then, they are off to the
station. Nine of those arrested are taken to headquarters for processing,
the others are released. The residences of five suspects are searched. In
this night, 171 officers of the mid city police are involved in this battle
against synthetic drugs.

The latest raid is a reaction to an alarming trend: within just two years,
the number of ecstasy users in greater Hamburg is estimated to have risen
from 15,000 to 38,000, according to research from the Munich Institute of
therapeutic research that went into the recent drug status report, and the
real number could be even higher. Most of the consumers are 18 to 25 years
old, almost one of every 10 in this age group admits to having tried the 
drug. Sixty percent of the ecstasy users admit to dosing regularly, mostly
on weekends.

A drug squad agent waiting for his colleagues outside the club comments
that Ecstasy has too long been "played down." A few months ago the pills
have now been reclassified as "hard" drugs, such as heroin and cocaine.

The drug squad says that Ecstasy is still very closely linked to the rave
scene, hence the raid on the techno club in the Kiez district. According
to sources of the Abendblatt, further raids are planned in the next few
months, in Hamburg scene clubs as well as on "Goa-Partys", that are 
celebrated during spring and summer in the harbour and in the countryside
surrounding the city.

The focus of the action are the professional dealers that have established
themselves in the scene. "A fight against windmills," complains Frank
Schoendube, chair of the state association of police officers (BdK). He 
says that only a handful of officers is on hand to fight against a
dangerous drug, yet considered relatively benign in the public. He
decries the fact that for "such a grave problem as Ecstasy" only a staff
of five is assigned to handling the issue. "Furthermore, during raids
dealers as well as consumers just throw the pills on the floor," says
Schoendube. This hampers the prosecution.

For those arrested in the "Tunnel" raid the consequences are mild: none of
none were put before a judge, all were free to go home in the morning.
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MAP posted-by: Eric Ernst