Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jul 2003
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2003 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Ricardo Chavira Jr.


European Import Attracts Growing Number of Youths Who Mix Music, 'Club Drugs'

PACHUCA, Mexico - Through the darkness, young people stumble along an 
uneven path into the thick forest of Mineral del Chico, a national park 60 
miles northeast of Mexico City.

Flashes of neon-green and fuchsia-pink lights illuminate the rock-strewn 
trail and the Technicolor hair and multiple piercings of the hipsters. 
Police at the entrance to the trail frisk everyone who passes through, as 
smoke from marijuana joints and the pyrotechnic machine waft through the 
dense brush.

Suddenly, the trees give way to a gigantic pit, where 4,000 to 5,000 kids 
sway to syncopated music booming from a makeshift DJ booth.

This is a rave; a phenomenon imported from Europe that in Mexico draws 
legions of young psycheros. They see themselves as modern hippies. They 
dance all night to "psycho-trance" music. And they consume lots of "club 
drugs" such as "ecstasy," LSD and amphetamines, police say.

"This is our Woodstock," says Fernando Cisneros Cruz, 17, of Mexico City. 
"We're Mexico's counter-culture. We take psychedelic drugs and party nonstop."

"We're out here in nature to celebrate peace, love, unity, and respect," 
says Fernando, using the English words to form the acronym, PLUR, that 
psycheros live by.

With the growing popularity of club drugs, Mexico has become both a 
destination and a transshipment point for chemical substances, said an 
agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Mexico is importing more club drugs to where they are being used," the 
agent said on condition of anonymity. "And for the producers, getting club 
drugs into Mexico puts you 98 percent of the way to street sales in the U.S."

History of rave scene

The rave scene arrived in Mexico in the early 1990s and quickly attracted 
artists and intellectuals seeking a new way to party. Today, raves make up 
a sizable subculture of mostly lower- and middle-class psycheros who shun 
drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

A seminal rave event occurred last year in Guadalajara, when police 
arrested 40 youths. Psycheros say authorities reacted harshly because they 
saw that raves were quickly becoming a haven for drug users.

The raver's drug of choice is ecstasy, or MDMA - 
methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a stimulant and mild hallucinogenic popular 
in U.S. nightclubs in the late '80s and '90s.

"We're starting to see abuse of ecstasy, LSD and methamphetamine in 
Mexico's metropolitan areas," said Dr. Victor Manuel Guisa Cruz, general 
director of The Juvenile Intervention Center, a national organization 
funded by government grants and private benefactors.

"Consumption of methamphetamine and ecstasy has increased due to the 
youths' lack of knowledge about the enormous danger they cause," said Dr. 
Guido Belsasso, commissioner of Mexico's National Council Against Addictions.

A new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has linked 
ecstasy with permanent brain damage and Parkinson's-like symptoms in some 

At the Mineral del Chico bash, ravers are oblivious to all that.

"I'm so high right now," says Francisco Velez Tovar, an 18-year-old student 
from Mexico City wearing only boxer shorts.

"I took something and I don't even know what it was," he shouts over a 
chorus of "Up, up, down, down, tabs, tabs of ecstasy," blaring from the 
sound system. "Some kids I met poured a powder on my tongue for free, since 
I didn't have any money."

Once imported mostly from Europe, MDMA is now being produced in Mexico, 
said an agent from the attorney general's office, or PGR.

"But the quality isn't as good. The pills are often mixed with 
methamphetamine, PCP, or pharmaceuticals," said the agent, who asked that 
his name not be used.

Building brand loyalty

Today, ecstasy producers mark their pills with Asian lettering or stenciled 
animals, such as scorpions, to build brand loyalty.

At tonight's rave, dealers circulate freely, hawking their wares over the 
deafening thumps of bass lines: "Ecstasy! Acid! Meth!"

Ravers dressed in ancient tribal wear, bleached-white tunics and glittery 
1950s-style space suits routinely stop the dealers.

At 1 a.m., one dealer says he's almost sold out. "I can barely keep up. 
Everybody here wants to get high," says the teenager, clad in a long white 
fur coat and matching white-rimmed sunglasses.

Dr. Arturo Alvarado, a sociology professor at El Colegio de Mexico, in part 
blames Mexico's sputtering economy for the growing drug use.

"Without an education or jobs, youths have a hard time integrating 
themselves into society," he says.
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