US Custom's Commisioner's Statement March 12, 2000
Last December, we issued a warning to parents about the dangers of the drug MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy. Ecstasy has become a major concern for law enforcement, both because of the health risks it poses to the young people who most frequently use it, and because of its increasing ties to criminal smuggling groups.
Since that message, the U.S. Customs Service has continued to experience an unprecedented rise in Ecstasy seizures. In fiscal year 1999, Customs made 209 seizures of Ecstasy tablets totaling 3 million doses. In the first five months of fiscal year 2000 alone (the period from October 1999 through March 2000), Customs has made seizures totaling nearly 4 million doses.
Ecstasy has long been associated with a big city club scene and the popular all-night dance parties known as raves. But what has become clear of late is that this is no longer a phenomenon exclusive to urban centers. Ecstasy is now making its way to suburban and rural communities as well.
In response to this alarming trend, Customs has taken several important measures:
First, we established an Ecstasy Task Force in Washington, D.C. to lead our investigative and counter-smuggling efforts. The Headquarters Task Force is responsible for gathering daily intelligence on criminal smuggling of Ecstasy, and coordinating Customs response with other law enforcement agencies.
In addition, the Customs Service has trained 13 drug-detecting dogs to find Ecstasy concealed by travelers arriving in the U.S. The dogs will be stationed at major airports and border crossings throughout the country.
While these measures will help combat a rising tide of Ecstasy, we must appeal again to parents to help us in this fight. Dont be fooled by what some describe as the minimal side effects of the drug. Ecstasy has been classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule 1 drug, putting it in the same category as other narcotics with absolutely no medicinal purposes such as heroin and LSD. In addition, ongoing medical research points increasingly to risks of irreversible brain damage among long-term Ecstasy users.
In the end, our best defense is less demand. Familiarize yourself with the physical symptoms of Ecstasy. Take a moment to educate your child about the hazards of the drug. And if you become aware of any smuggling activity, please report it by calling 1-800-BE ALERT.
information about Ecstasy, please visit the following web sites: http://www.drugfreeamerica.org/ecstasy.html
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