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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 18:20 GMT
Children sold 'Harry Potter' ecstasy pills
Ecstasy pills
The ecstasy pills were called "Harry Potters"
Police in the United States have uncovered a drug smuggling ring they say targeted children by stamping Harry Potter's image on ecstasy pills.

New York detectives discovered 400,000 tablets worth $6m bearing the image of the popular children's hero.

"These Harry Potter brands are targeting a young audience," a special agent with the US Drug Enforcement Administration told the agency.
Children reading Harry Potter
Harry Potter is popular among children

The pills were sold for $15 each, allegedly to children as young as 12.

Fourteen people were charged on Wednesday in connection with the operation.

If convicted, those responsible for the ring could face a 20-year prison sentence and a $1m fine.

The drug smugglers are thought to have been recruited in the Dominican Republic, Spain and the US.

Apparently they either put the drugs bought in Holland in pellets which they would swallow or hid them under tight clothing when passing through customs.

Authorities say some of the couriers would continue to the Dominican Republic where they would be given cocaine to smuggle into Europe, reported Associated Press.

The charges have been brought after a six-month investigation by US and Spanish authorities.

See also:

13 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
08 Jan 03 | England
27 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
23 Nov 02 | Health
02 Sep 02 | Health
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