Charles Schumer

ALBANY, N.Y. — Two U.S. senators said Sunday they will ask federal authorities to crack down on a secretive narcotics market operated on the Internet with anonymous sales and untraceable currency.

Heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines are among the drugs being sold on the well-protected website which has apparently been operating for just a few months.

Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both Democrats, said they asked the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration to shut down and investigate the website, often referred to as the Silk Road after an ancient Asian trade route.

“Never before has a website so brazenly peddled illegal drugs online,” Schumer said. “By cracking down on the website immediately, we can help stop these drugs from flooding our streets.”

Schumer said the website began operating in February and uses “layers” of secrecy to thwart authorities. Sellers are told to make shipments in vacuum-sealed bags to avoid drug-detecting dogs.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The makers of the popular caffeinated alcoholic drink Four Loko announced Tuesday that they would remove caffeine and other stimulants from their products. Phusion Projects made the announcement after it became apparent the Food and Drug Administration would rule caffeine is an unsafe additive to alcoholic beverages.

The three founders of Phusion Projects insisted that Four Loko and other alcoholic energy drinks were still safe but acknowledged the products had received increased scrutiny recently. Four states have banned caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko and Joose.

“We are taking this step after trying — unsuccessfully — to navigate a difficult and politically charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels,” the statement said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who has lobbied state and federal authorities to ban the drinks, announced in a statement that the FDA will make the ruling today, effectively banning the drinks. The Federal Trade Commission will also notify manufacturers that they must cease production of distribution of the beverages.

“This ruling should be the nail in the coffin of these dangerous and toxic drinks,” he said in a statement. “Parents should be able to rest a little easier knowing that soon their children won’t have access to this deadly brew.”

One can of Four Loko contains the equivalent of two to three cans of beer and two to three cups of coffee, according to Schumer’s website.

The media buzz surrounding caffeinated alcoholic beverages led the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to discuss an action plan to regulate drink sales said spokeswoman Carolyn Beck.

Beck said TABC will do as mandated by the FDA once a law is in effect because the administration has deemed the drinks hazardous.

“If FDA makes the decision, there will be a quick turnaround,” she said.

The TABC would post bulletins online and e-mail notifications to permitted merchants.

She said although the commission did not begin discussing pulling the drinks as a result of any particular case, they are taking recent incidents into account. A 14-year-old girl died in a car crash Sunday in Denton. Police reported five empty Four Loko cans in the car, which her boyfriend was driving, indicating the drink may have contributed to the fatal crash.

The bright and eye-catching cans and the fruity flavor of the actual drink suggest an appeal to younger consumers, said advertising associate professor Marina Choi.

“I can’t say whether or not that was their angle, but their design and marketing strategy would suggest that they are targeting a younger audience,” Choi said.