Drug dealers use cartoons to target kids



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Posted on January 22, 2010 at 6:40 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 22 at 6:51 PM

SEATTLE - They're colorful, flavorful and they might appeal to your kids. But they're also dangerous street drugs.

A federal case in Seattle shows just how plentiful a club drug known as BZP or "bennies" has become in our community. On Friday, a Mercer Island man got a five year sentence in federal prison for smuggling a hundred thousand pills into the U.S. He was carrying a drug that is insidious because of its outright appeal to children.

In his Chevy truck, James Riggins drew the suspicion of border officers at the Blaine crossing from Canada. They discovered a hidden compartment under the truck bed.

There were more surprises when they opened the packets stuffed inside - amphetamines pressed into colorful pills in the shape of President Obama, Snoopy and The Simpsons.

Bellevue drug counselor Margaret Ferris says "bennies" are the rage among young people who are attracted to the colors and shapes and different flavors.

“That's purposeful,” says Ferris, “It’s why they package drugs that way. They make it so it doesn't seem so harmful. It’s scary to see that because we're having more youth come in that are minimizing the effects drugs can have on them."

BZP, a less potent knock-off version of ecstasy, hit the streets a few years ago. But its use has gone up. Last year alone, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents intercepted a half-million tablets in Whatcom County, mostly at the border.

Ferris says it's clear that "bennies" are prevalent on the streets and it's time for parents to have a discussion with their kids about them.

Authorities who prosecuted Riggins told the judge on Friday that he was also running ecstasy into the U.S., which is much more potent and is often combined with "bennies".