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Doctor X, doctor: “It is easier to get cocaine than an antibiotic” | Culture

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In the morning Fernando Caudevilla (Madrid, 50 years old) works as a family doctor in a normal health center. In the afternoon, like a superhero, he transforms into Doctor X, a drug doctor. He attends his private practice (on addictions, therapeutic uses, chemsex, information, risk prevention), investigates or gives talks. For 20 years he was part of the Energy Control organization, dedicated to analyzing drugs and reporting in leisure places such as nightclubs or festivals.

Now his figure stars Doctor X. The doctor of the Dark Web (The Sphere of Books). José Ángel Mañas and Jordi Ledesma write a fast-paced, meta-literary novel about the case of Solk Road, the drug sales page on the Deep Web, whose founder, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to two life sentences. Doctor X was, in some way, involved.

Ask. What was Silk Road?

Answer. It was the first “Amazon of drugs”, thanks to the anonymity of bitcoin and the Deep Web. He worked extraordinarily well. When they told me I didn’t believe it, and when I looked at it I was amazed. It had a forum where different topics were discussed. My participation there was the same as in my professional career: answering questions and providing information about drugs.

P. He participated under the nick by Doctor X.

R. Yes, but in a completely identifiable and transparent way, putting the link to my website. And I was very successful. So Dread Pirate Roberts (the nick from the creator of Silk Road) offered me $500 a week in bitcoins. When bitcoins were worth the same as a gallifante.

P. Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to two life sentences.

R. And the following week Silk Road 2.0 began, as if nothing had happened… Between 2007, when Ross was arrested, and 2015, I continue doing that work in the drug markets. Then they found him guilty, with an exemplary sentence, although all he had done was program. They tried to frame him for several murders, but things didn’t work out. Then they decided to include testimonies from parents who had lost their children to drugs.

P. There you come in, again.

R. Yes, they contact me and other international experts. They tell me to go testify in New York, but here they advise me that it is better not to go. So I testify in writing. I tell everything about my relationship with Ross and my presence on Silk Road. I contributed my 600 messages with it.

P. Did it have an impact?

R. Suddenly I was in The New York Timesin USA Today, a friend told me that she was on the Oprah Winfrey show. And it was true. Here, luckily, she didn’t even find out about Tato. Which makes me infinitely happy.

P Because?

R. The judge said a series of atrocities… She called me despicable, irresponsible… Of the 60 pages of the sentence, eight are dedicated to slandering me. To say, for example, that I tried to sell fentanyl on the Deep Web. For me, the main reason for this novel is the appendix where I explain this topic. On the good side, they started calling me at world conferences, then I worked with the European Union, my work has been valued. Although the judge thought it was very ugly.

Fernando Caudevilla, ‘Doctor INMA FLORES

P. They say that in Spain we are permissive.

R. Here 400,000 citizens are fined a year for carrying drugs in their pockets. It is considered a serious violation of public safety: the same as displaying a weapon. The minimum fine is 600 euros, when the minimum salary is 1,000. But in relation to the global context we are fine: in 70% of the countries in the world you can go to jail for carrying drugs. Then the media is always with the punctures in the nightclubs, the cannibal drugs and other gruesome stories; Meanwhile, no one cares about the serious problems.

P. Were you afraid of ending up in an American prison?

R. Yes, in the novel it is a bit exaggerated, but yes. Eight people appear in the trial papers, me among them, and six ended up in jail. I guess it was considered that giving information about drugs is not a crime. But it was an intensely unpleasant thing, there were moments of panic. I’m not at all paranoid, but I had the constant feeling that they were watching and listening to me.

P. It is understandable, with the one that fell to Ulbricht.

R. And it was of no use, because the drug crypto markets continue. It is just as useless as the drug policies we have. They are immoral policies, contrary to public health, that do much more harm than good. But we continue at the same thing.

Every year, 400,000 citizens are fined for carrying drugs in their pockets. It is considered a serious violation of public safety: the same as displaying a weapon

P. Causing?

R. That we do not know what we consume. The average consumer is usually looking for something or other in a nightclub at three in the morning. Or he buys from a guy on a corner who gives him something that he doesn’t even know what he has. Take this, try this. It’s total nonsense.

P. Today freedom and individual responsibility are praised, but in this case…

R. It is entrenched, it is the last taboo. It is okay to say that on Saturday you had a big alcohol fart, but not that you have a hangover because you ate an ecstasy pill. In my case, most of my patients at the health center do not know my activity as Doctor X. The 21st century is very funny: one can be very well known in a very small environment and then be a completely anonymous citizen. Some are amazed by the book, like my family. I had already appeared in the press many times with my most technical work, but not with this specific story.

P. Does fentanyl reach Spain?

R. I’m glad you asked me that question, because it’s one of my eternal annoyances. In 2015 we started with the international analysis of substances. In 2019 we get news that European sellers are selling heroin laced with fentanyl. We produced a report, which ended up in the United Nations. We contacted the sellers on the deep web and managed to stop it. He has not been seen in Europe again, luckily.

P. Because?

R. Here the supply of heroin, from Afghanistan, is greater than the demand, so there is no need for fentanyl, which, remember, is not a desired drug, but was originally used to adulterate heroin. And those adulterations are not necessary.

P. In other places the situation is not so rosy.

R. Something is being done wrong if drug policies fail to eradicate heroin, and it is seen that it is adulterated with fentanyl, which in the United States is once again the leading cause of death in young people. The authorities have responsibility for this.

P. Is responsible consumption of all types of drugs possible?

R. The best way to avoid breaking your leg skiing is not to ski. Within sports there are higher and lower risk ones. So with drugs. One fentanyl pinhead makes you sick, two kills you. The substance that most hooks and kills the most, however, is tobacco. I believe that the more dangerous a drug is, the greater the reasons for it to be regulated, controlled. There are many ways to do it, leaving it in the hands of drug trafficking is not one of them.

If drug policies fail to eradicate heroin, something is being done wrong. The authorities have the responsibility

P. Alcohol and tobacco are very harmful and, being legal, are very widespread. If we raise our hands with the other drugs…

R. Eradicating tobacco among young people, which is one of the few things that is being achieved in Europe, has to do with regulation. Drugs have a dark side, but also a positive and recreational side. Alcohol is the great social lubricant in this country, but it also generates great addiction and generates problems of violence. Legalizing sounds like an open bar, but it is not: it is regulation. It couldn’t be worse than the open bar that exists now: it is easier to get cocaine than an antibiotic. In the pandemic there were problems with toilet paper… but not with drug supplies.

P. To do?

R. I insist that the best way to avoid having problems with drugs is not to consume them. But the fact is that there are people who consume them, and we have to find strategies so that they know how to do it. There are ways to manage different substances in terms of frequencies, doses, effects. Problems usually arise when you approach drugs without information, when a stranger gives you something like: “Here, this is going to be cool.”

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