The synthetically produced drug, MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) is often referred to as a party drug.
Its street names are also ecstasy, e, x, Molly and in the UK it is also known as Mandy.
It usually comes in a form of pill or a tablet, has an imprint and is usually taken orally, although it can be inhaled through the nose if smashed into powder or shelfed (anal suppository).
MDMA is made out of different chemicals, and the amount of MDMA substance varies in each batch of tablets; sometimes these tablets do not even contain MDMA, but some similar substances, which referred to as “fake ecstasy” or “herbal ecstasy.”
According to some estimations, between 9 and 28 million people have used ecstasy at least once in their lifetime.
This number represents 0.2% to 0.6% of global population between 15 and 65 years old.
MDMA or ecstasy was extremely popular drug in Europe and North America during the 90s.
People mostly used the drug on rave parties and the users often describe it as means to open their senses.
Usual short time side effects are muscle aches, hyperactivity, nausea, increased energy, teeth grinding, accelerated heart rate, increased temperature, vomiting, sweating, and the illusion of thinking you are an awesome dancer among others.
It takes 6-7 hours for the effects to ware off, after which the user might experience depression and sleeplessness.
Long term side effects are memory loss, sleeping problems, liver problems, high blood pressure, panic attacks, and attention deficit among others.
During 90s, the majority of MDMA, about 80% of it was made in Netherlands, a certain amount was made in Belgium and somewhat less amount was made in Eastern Europe, mainly Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Hungary.
Naturally, it was delivered all throughout Europe and across the world via mail, sea, air, and land.
During early 2000s, the popularity of this drug significantly dropped, especially in North America.
However since 2010, ecstasy has been gaining in popularity yet again especially in East and South-East Asia and Oceania.
For example, while 2006th saw 1.9 million tablets seized; in 2010 this number grew to 3.9 million tablets.
According to the UN reports 2 tons were seized in the region of East and South-East Asia and Oceania in 2012, which is just 300 kilos behind Europe – current leader in the MDMA consumption.
The same year saw 0.7 tons of seized MDMA in both Americas.
This increase in popularity and consumption didn’t continue the following 2013; in fact, it decreased for a symbolic 1 ton.
The other part of the work, namely Oceania (mainly Australia), saw several tons of seized MDMA in 2014 and 2015. Records for the other countries and regions are yet unavailable.
Major Producers of MDMA
The seizing confirmed that most of the today’s MDMA come from the region of East and South-East Asia.
Some journalists noticed the familiar “look from the 90s” on the British youth in nightclubs, and they expressed a suspicion that the clubbers are using the MDMA.
After a couple of police interventions the suspicion was confirmed as justified – the British youth is enjoying ecstasy again.
The police also confirmed that most of the ecstasy came from China. A symptomatic fact is that only 0.4% of the MDMA users are older than 25 years.
On the other part of the globe, the MDMA that is produced in Asia and Oceania is also distributed locally, so the usage in these areas as well has significantly grown in the recent years.
For instance, MDMA is the second most used drug in Indonesia, just behind marijuana.
It so happens that Indonesian territory is very convenient for smuggling virtually anything in and out of the country.
The reason is that its islands spread across three time zones and there are a LOT of coasts to be guarded, which is practically impossible to do with the resources currently has available to the Indonesia’s government.
According to an estimate, Indonesia could soon become a significant rival to Europe as a producer of the MDMA as well as its consumption.
Most of today’s MDMA is made in the Mekong region (Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam).
And although some might think that the Asian MDMA is made only for export; the majority of these tablets are seized in countries where they had been made, while the number of MDMA tablets seized someplace else has been steadily decreasing in the last 4 years.
In 2011 and 2012, 66000 liters of safrole was seized in the Asian region.
This could theoretically be used for producing of about 44 tons of MDMA! Considering that the same 2 years saw around 9 tons of MDMA seized across the globe, this is a huge number indeed.
Many would think that again – Mexican cartels hold MDMA markets; however, the truth is that Mexican mobsters have no interest in supplying such “undemanding” markets as these are.
The fact is that 1,460 pounds of MDMA were seized on the north border of the US while only 24 pounds was seized on the south border of the US!
The synthetic compound of the MDMA can be manufactured anywhere and the Latin American warm climate plays no significant role in producing ecstasy; unlike cocaine or heroin, where climate does matter.
Due to this fact, most of the North American MDMA is produced locally, or to be more precise in Canada and most of the Canadian MDMA is produced and smuggled to the US by Asian immigrants who work in organized crime groups and have access to Chinese chemicals used for making of MDMA.
Similar to the Indonesian border, the same is with the border between the US and Canada – it is hard to protect it.
Indeed, things have improved recently, due to the usage of drones and balloons with cameras which are “observing” the critical crossing points, but many areas remain easy to cross and smuggle MDMA from one country to other.
One of the most commonly used places for smuggling MDMA and other drugs across the border is Akwesasne, an Indian reservoir on the north of the state of New York which crosses over to Canada and inhabitants of this reservoir are free to cross from one country to other whenever they want.
Many misuse this right and smuggle illicit drugs from one country to other.
The New York Post published an interesting story about a New York undergrad student, who called herself Regan for the purpose of that interview.
Regan made a living out of MDMA smuggling.
She claims that she could make up to $45,000 a month out of selling drugs and together with her boss, who works as a distributor; they are running a $4,000,000 million business.
According to their experience, summer is the season when the MDMA is used the most because there are many music festivals where people enjoy this drug.
Undergraduate girl, and her boss, have sneaky methods for smuggling drugs over the border; they hide it in the tires of Regan’s car and they stay a couple of days in Canada for their goods in order to avoid being suspicious.
Selling MDMA on the internet black markets became extremely popular during the last couple of years.
According to dealers’ and buyers’ experiences, it is much safer and if you play it well, you could be absolutely anonymous.
MDMA and other illicit drugs which are being sold on the Internet are being paid with digital currencies, one of which is bitcoin, the most popular and trustful of all digital currencies.
The most famous market, Silk Road, lasted for two years before its founder, Ross Ulbricht, was arrested and sentenced to lifetime in prison.
According to some researches, MDMA was the most often sold drug on the Silk Road. Usually, the drug is being sent by mail, while being well disguised inside DVD covers, books, or whatever they come up with.
Seizing drugs which are sold on the internet became extremely difficult because there is no real chain buyer-dealer-supplier.
In this internet chain, nobody knows anyone; both dealers and buyers are known by their pseudonyms and the delivery addresses of the purchases are most often empty lots, or drop outs.
Studies claim that MDMA has become much more lethal, especially is it the “fake” or “herbal” MDMA.
During the period of just a couple of days last year, 6 young people in Florida and at least 3 in Chicago were found dead from the fake ecstasy.
From the same cause, over 100 people died in the UK.
The trouble with fake MDMA is that it is mostly much stronger than the regular MDMA.
This fake MDMA is usually made by inexperienced people in bad laboratory conditions and the chemicals are not put together in adequate proportions.
To make things worse, most of the fake MDMAs are metabolized much slower than the regular one and most of users think that they “took some weak shit” and take another one, which usually kills them.
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