Obama-Shaped Ecstasy and Coke-Stuffed Globes Fill the DEA’s Deleted Drug Newsletter

Russ Kick, a transparency advocate who archives government websites, downloaded the publicly-available issues before they were deleted this summer.
Image: From Microgram Bulletin/DEA

Coke stuffed in the back of religious murals, Obama-shaped ecstasy pills, and a detailed diagram of all the places you can line a sedan with cash and drugs—these are just a few of the treasures you can find in issues of Microgram Bulletin, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s deleted newsletter.

Sedan hiding places

The newsletter has been in production for subscribers within the drug enforcement community for decades, starting in 1967, but it’s usually classified and kept from the public. The exception to this was a period from 2003 through 2013 when every issue was unrestricted, and even posted on the DEA’s website.


Earlier this summer, the DEA decided to wipe these issues from its website, but not before Russ Kick, a government transparency advocate, downloaded the entire catalog for posterity. This week he uploaded the issues as a single PDF available for anyone who wants to flip through the scuttlebutt of drug enforcement world from the early ‘naughts.

A photo from the Microgram Bulletin

“I downloaded them because I damn well knew that the DEA would yank them down at some point,” Kick wrote on his blog, AltGov 2. He also preserved issues of the Microgram Journal, a scientific journal on the chemistry of street drugs.

A photo from the Microgram Bulletin

The Bulletin is a collection of alerts and tips for law enforcement on different smuggling techniques and new drugs they come across. This includes the aforementioned Barack Obama-shaped tablets, courtesy of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, which wrote that it “received five tablets shaped like the heads of Ninja Turtles, Snoopy, and Barack Obama, suspected Ecstasy,” adding “Most tablets submitted are round and vary in imprint/stamps. These tablets were quite detailed.”

It also provides several examples of the creative ways drug dealers try to hide and smuggle their drugs, from a laminated recipe page that included cocaine:

A photo from the Microgram Bulletin

to smuggling heroin in a chessboard:

A photo from the Microgram Bulletin

to stuffing a toy bear with nearly 160 grams of magic mushrooms:

A photo from the Microgram Bulletin

It’s a hell of a peek into a side of the drug market that many of us never get to see.