Drug dealer: tainted ‘Tesla pill’ may be a trick played by a rivalling gang
A drug dealer who played a nasty trick on one of their rivals: that is the explanation given by a Nijmegen drug dealer for the tainted Tesla pills that landed seven Nijmegen students in the hospital.
With his red sweater, green jacket and stylish cap he looks like a typical festival-goer. He thinks of himself as just a regular student. ‘A student with a job on the side,’ says Stan* (23). The job in question is drug dealing. A job that, in his own words, helps him make a good living and meet lots of nice people.
But also a job in a sector with a considerable dark side, something that once again became apparent only two weeks ago. Tainted pills led to seven students being hospitalised. The students thought they were taking the psychedelic 2C-B, but the pills turned out to contain the much stronger DOC. A drug considered to be ‘extremely dangerous’ by the Trimbos Institute.’
It’s the talk of the day between Stan and his customers, most of them students who enjoy partying. How could things go so wrong? Many customers complain about healthcare institution Iriszorg, which closed their Nijmegen drug testing facility at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then it has only been possible to test drugs that are suspected of being tainted. ‘It was an accident waiting to happen,’ says Stan. ‘How can they be so naive as to close down this kind of service? As if people would stop using drugs just because there are no festivals or parties.’
He would always send his customers to Iriszorg to have his drugs tested. ‘It’s my way of trying to take responsibility for the stuff I sell. I’d give my customer a little extra to bring to the testing service and ask them to record the conversation with the results.’ Since the service was closed down, he’s been issuing a standard disclaimer: these drugs have not been tested. Because of the Tesla pills, Iriszorg decided last week to make the testing service more accessible again, to Stan’s great relief. ‘One of my customers is going to drop by on Thursday.’
But the true responsibility lies elsewhere, says Stan, namely with the person who supplied the tainted pills. ‘A terrible thing to do,’ he says. ‘I wonder if the perpetrator can sleep at night.’ How could things go so wrong? Stan sees two options: either the producer delivered the wrong drugs to the dealer, or the dealer delivered the wrong drugs to the customer. The latter is not very likely, according to the student. ‘Contrary to what many people think, drug delivery to customers has little to do with shady deals on the street.’
‘I usually make home deliveries for my regular customers,’ he says. ‘We have a chat, drink a beer, and then I leave. I’ve known many of my customers for years.’ By which he means to say that dealers have no interest in deceiving drug users. ‘You want to ensure a good relationship with your customers.’
According to the dealer, the Nijmegen drug dealing scene is basically divided into students with a job on the side, working-class dealers and young people with a migration background. Did one of them accidentally deliver the wrong pills? ‘It’s not very likely,’ says the student. ‘I can’t imagine that you could accidentally swap a pill for one containing this dangerous substance.’
He finds the other explanation more likely: that a drug baron used tainted drugs to play a nasty trick on a rival, for example. In the underworld, these kinds of things happen all the time, he explains. ‘If a producer finds out that a rival has a big batch of pills, he’ll make the same pills with a different substance in them. This gives the pill a bad name, and the rival is stuck with hundreds of thousands of unsellable pills and therefore huge expenses.’
Response from Iriszorg
Irmgard Poelmans from Iriszorg informs us in a written response that the test facility has always been open by appointment for cases of suspected tainted drugs or symptoms following drug usage. ‘In principle we discourage people from taking drugs, also during the coronavirus pandemic. If someone chooses to do it anyway, they run extra risks. I think it’s quite shocking that a drug dealer tries to shift some of the responsibility onto us.’ Poelmans is not impressed with the fact that Stan usually has his drugs tested at Iriszorg by his customers. ‘I find it completely unacceptable that a drug dealer misuses the system in this way. We don’t run these tests for drug dealers. On the contrary, our test service is aimed at limiting the risks of drug usage for users.’
The shape of the pills can be adjusted and copied on request. Suppliers hire ‘printers’ for this very purpose. Stan: ‘If you order 10,000 or more pills, you can ask for your own pattern to be printed on them. Yes, like the Tesla pill.’ Dealers can also request that pills contain specific active substances in specific proportions. For example, Stan often asks for more caffeine in his amphetamine when he has German customers. ‘Germans like caffeine in their speed.’
At the top of the food chain are the big drug barons. According to Stan, these are people who combine intelligence with a ruthless trading style. They know exactly how to stay away from the police. ‘They’ve organised their trade in such a way that it can never be traced directly to them. No one would dare to denounce them. Far too scared of the consequences.’
According to the 2020 book Nederland drugsland [The Netherlands: Land of Drugs] by Public Administration expert Pieter Tops and journalist Jan Tromp, the Dutch drug scene is a ‘parallel economy that runs on bribery, white-washing and brutal violence.’ The Mayor of Nijmegen, Hubert Bruls, warned last year of the ‘undermining and disruptive effect drugs have on our society.’
Stan says he is aware of the abuses that accompany drug trade, but he still finds his ‘job on the side’ defensible. ‘I do have mixed feelings about it, but if I don’t do it, someone else will. I tell myself that I do it better than others. If I notice that someone’s getting into trouble because of drugs, I talk to them about it.’
On the chances that the makers of the Tesla pill will be caught, Stan is very clear. ‘The odds are zero. The police might manage to get a few of the middlemen, but the man calling the shots won’t let himself be caught. I’m sure of that.’
* ‘Stan’ is a fictitious name. The interviewee’s real name is known to the editors.