International Ecstasy Organization Indicted
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia William S. Duffey, Jr. and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge (SAC) W. Michael Furgason, Sr., today announced the takedown of an international MDMA (Ecstasy) organization headquartered in the Atlanta metropolitan area. In a news conference today, federal, state and local officials announced "Operation X-Men," a multi-jurisdictional investigation, targeting the illegal trafficking of MDMA, commonly referred to as Ecstasy.
The Drug Enforcement Administration announced the arrests of 15 individuals in 2 states and in Spain. The DEA's Atlanta Field Division Office conducted Operation X-Men, as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The investigation included the DEA, FBI, IRS, Marietta, Cobb, Smyrna (MCS) Task Force, Henry County Police and the Henry County Sheriff's Office. At this time, three federally indicted co-conspirators remain fugitives. The indictment in this case was unsealed with the arrests of the defendants. Information released in a bond hearing today indicated that in a one year period alone, the defendants imported and distributed nearly 1,000,000 tablets of ecstacy.
This two-year investigation began with a seizure of 24 kilograms of MDMA in Montreal, Canada. The drugs were destined for Atlanta, Georgia. The joint effort of local agencies and the DEA disclosed a large organization consisting of numerous individuals who were importing MDMA from Amsterdam, N.E. to the Atlanta, Georgia, area. The vast majority of Ecstasy consumed domestically is produced in Europe. It costs as little as 25 to 50 cents to manufacture an Ecstasy tablet in Europe and it is sold in the United States for between $20-$30.
Operation X-Men encompasses several investigations. These investigations targeted multiple individuals living on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean that were parts of the overall organization manufacturing, importing and distributing large quantities of Ecstasy. Thus far, seizures have resulted in approximately 95,000 Ecstasy tablets, three Rolex watches, $129,000 in cash, five high priced late model vehicles, two Harley Davidson motorcycles, and a $12 million dollar seizure judgment was filed against the indicted organization members.
"This investigation demonstrates how DEA, working with our law enforcement partners in Georgia, as well as across the country and internationally, are taking apart Ecstasy trafficking organizations," said DEA SAC Furgason at a news conference this morning. "Our enforcement action against drug traffickers who supply this poison to our communities is only half of the struggle. Law Enforcement, partnered with parents and community leaders, must also battle the misinformation that tells our youth that Ecstasy and other club drugs are safe."
United States Attorney Bill Duffey said of the case, "Our goal is to dismantle the criminal enterprise that imports illegal drugs in our communities. Make no mistake, this is a dangerous substance that has infiltrated our culture."
Ecstasy is popular among middle-class adolescents and young adults. It is a stimulant possessing mild hallucinogenic properties. Ecstasy is generally administered in pill or capsule form, though it may also be sniffed, snorted, injected, or used in suppository form. The 2-8 hour high, or "roll", usually is produced within 15 minutes of administration. Known as the "hug drug" or "feel good" drug, it reduces inhibitions and produces feelings of empathy for others, the elimination of anxiety, and extreme relaxation. Ecstasy is often sold at legitimate nightclubs and bars, or all night dance parties known as "raves". Ecstasy use increases the heart rate and blood pressure. It causes involuntary teeth clenching, which users often attempt to prevent with pacifiers or lollipops; muscle tension; nausea; blurred vision; rapid-eye movement; and fainting. The most critical, life-threatening response to Ecstasy is hyperthermia or excessive body heat. Ecstasy related deaths have been recorded with core body temperatures at 109 degrees Fahrenheit. As the body overheats, inducing sweating and severe dehydration, Ecstasy users consume large amounts of water to avoid heat stroke. Research has revealed that recreational Ecstasy users risk permanent brain damage.
Furgason said the case is a long-term complex international investigation that has come to fruition as a result of numerous agencies providing invaluable services. Each participating agency acted in the true spirit of cooperation with one common goal: leading to the successful outcome of Operation X-Men.
At today's news conference, DEA and other federal officials also identified THREE FUGITIVES in the X-Men case:
OLYVES, W/M, 36, 5'8 tall, 150 lbs
Anyone with information on any of these defendants are asked to contact the DEA or their local police.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Brown and John Horn are prosecuting this case.
For additional information, please contact Group Supervisor Ruth Porter-Whipple at the DEA Atlanta Office at (404) 893-7128, or Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, United States Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016.