01/09/2008

Meth-laced Ecstasy flowing into U.S.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON D.C. — Methamphetamine-laced Ecstasy is flowing across the Canadian border into the United States, according to a warning from the federal government to public health and local law enforcement officials.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that seizures of Ecstasy at the northern border increased tenfold from 2003 to 2006, with more than half of the contraband tablets containing methamphetamine, a vastly more addicting drug. This matches findings by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The development comes after an uptick in Ecstasy use after years of waning popularity for the club drug and just as the supply of methamphetamine is being strangled at the Mexican border. Thus some law enforcement and treatment experts hypothesize that the turbo-charged combination is an effort by traffickers to reverse trends unfavorable to their business by marketing a new product at a new point of entry.

Ecstasy, which gained popularity in the 1990s "rave" culture, had been in steep decline since 2001, but began to creep upward in 2005 and 2006, when first-time users increased by 40 percent, a third of them under the age of 18, according to a variety of studies.

At more or less the same time, the supply of methamphetamine in the United States has been substantially reduced, first by shutting domestic laboratories and then by new cooperation from the Mexican government in controlling its manufacture and smuggling.

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