Pubdate: Thu, 14 Aug 2003
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2003 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Ricardo Chavira Jr.,The Dallas Morning News


PACHUCA--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 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 drugs such as ecstasy, LSD and amphetamines, police say.

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

"We're out here in nature to celebrate peace, love, unity and
respect," said Cruz, 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 trans-shipment point for chemical substances, said
an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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 --
a stimulant and mild hallucinogenic popular in U.S. nightclubs in the
late 1980s 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

"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

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

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.

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

At the Mineral del Chico 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," said 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 said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin