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Other Dangerous Drugs


The trafficking and abuse of other dangerous drugs (ODDs), including MDMA, LSD, PCP, and GHB, have fluctuated greatly since the late 1990s. The availability and abuse of ODDs appear to have peaked in 2001 or 2002 and since that time have declined. For most ODDs (LSD, PCP, and GHB), availability and abuse have declined to very low levels with limited distribution. However, MDMA availability began rising in 2004 as Canada-based Asian DTOs significantly increased production of the drug in Canada and expanded distribution in U.S. drug markets that were largely abandoned by dismantled Israeli DTOs that had controlled most MDMA in the United States in the 1990s through 2002.

Strategic Findings

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MDMA production by Asian DTOs in Canada has increased significantly since 2004, fueling MDMA distribution by Canada-based Asian DTOs in U.S. drug markets. Reporting from Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officials as well as recent seizure data suggests that MDMA production in Canada by Canada-based Asian DTOs has increased sharply, particularly since 2004. RCMP reporting indicates that Asian DTOs--primarily Chinese but also some Vietnamese groups--in Canada have significantly increased MDMA production, particularly in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. According to RCMP seizure data, the number of MDMA laboratory seizures in Canada has remained relatively stable since 2004 (see Table 15); however, law enforcement reporting indicates that the capacity of Canadian MDMA laboratories has increased greatly. For example, RCMP reports that all of the laboratories seized in 2006 were large-capacity MDMA superlabs; five of these laboratories were capable of producing at least 22 pounds per production cycle. The RCMP estimates that the combined production from all Canadian MDMA laboratories exceeds 2 million tablets per week.

Table 15. Number of MDMA Laboratory Seizures in Canada, 2002-2006

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
11 10 18 17 16

Source: Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Much of the MDMA produced in Canada is intended for distribution by Canada-based Asian groups in U.S. drug markets. The increasing flow of MDMA from Canada is widely reported by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies along the U.S.-Canada border, and MDMA seizure data in Northern Border states appear to support this contention. According to the Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS), the amount of MDMA seized in states that border Canada has increased since 2002; the largest amounts were seized in Michigan, New York, and Washington (see Table 16). According to the RCMP, Chinese DTOs that produce MDMA in Canada typically provide the drug to Vietnamese criminal groups that smuggle it into the United States for subsequent distribution. Consequently, the increased flow of MDMA from Canada to the United States by Canada-based Asian DTOs has resulted in Canada's becoming the primary source of MDMA to U.S. drug markets. In fact, over half of the HIDTA Program Offices (17 of 32) reported in 2007 that Canada was the origin for most MDMA available in their areas.

Table 16. Federal Drug Seizures for MDMA in Northern Border States, in Dosage Units, 2002-2006

Among Northern Border states, the highest amount of MDMA is seized consistently in Michigan, New York, and Washington.

State 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Idaho 268 0 0 33 6
Maine 0 27 750 93 151
Michigan 143,587 83,586 70,309 443,451 1,613,249
Minnesota 127 2,514 1,229 5,008 112,921
Montana 16,019 0 20 2 127,159
New Hampshire 0 0 2,633 9,517 1
New York 2,790,013 413,658 740,546 1,249,747 1,141,629
North Dakota 0 0 19 1 7
Vermont 31 17,811 47,879 56,437 26,240
Washington 407,753 50,624 558,347 1,415,344 2,464,256
Total 3,357,798 568,220 1,421,732 3,179,633 5,485,619

Source: Federal-Wide Drug Seizure System.

MDMA produced in Europe is distributed in U.S. drug markets, although at levels much lower than in the late 1990s. MDMA produced in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, is smuggled into the United States for distribution; however, the amounts distributed and the influence of European MDMA distribution groups have diminished greatly since the 1990s. Federal, state, and local law enforcement reporting indicates that distribution of MDMA produced in Europe is far less common than distribution of Canadian MDMA. For example, only 3 out of 32 HIDTAs reported European MDMA distributors in their areas, compared with 17 HIDTAs reporting Canadian MDMA distributors. Nevertheless, law enforcement reporting from some large MDMA markets, such as Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia, indicates that European-produced MDMA is generally available and distributed in those areas.

Domestic MDMA production is limited and will most likely remain at low levels in the near term. Domestic MDMA production has never occurred on a significant scale, as evidenced by consistently low numbers of MDMA laboratory seizures (see Table 7 in Appendix C). NSS data indicate that only 85 domestic MDMA laboratories were seized since 2000. Moreover, domestic laboratories typically are small-capacity laboratories. In fact, NSS data show that 53 percent (45 of 85) of MDMA laboratories seized in the United States since 2000 were very small operations in which less than 2 ounces could be produced per production cycle. Only 6 of the 85 MDMA laboratory seizures in the United States since 2000 were superlabs.

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The availability of LSD has declined to low levels, occasioned by low production in small laboratories by relatively few producers. The availability of LSD has declined to very low levels since the seizure of a large LSD laboratory in Kansas and the arrest of its operators in late 2000. According to DEA, the same operators of the Kansas laboratory had previously produced LSD in a Santa Fe, New Mexico, laboratory, in which approximately 10 million dosage units of LSD were produced every 5 weeks from September 1997 through October 1999. Following the Kansas laboratory seizure and arrests of the operators, the nationwide availability of LSD appears to have decreased sharply. In fact, the amount of LSD submitted for testing to DEA's STRIDE (System to Retrieve Information From Drug Evidence) program decreased over 99 percent between 2000 and 2001. Since 2001, LSD samples submitted for testing have not significantly increased20 (see Table 17). Similarly, NSS data show that only five LSD laboratories have been seized since 2001 (see Table 7 in Appendix C). According to law enforcement reporting, the seized laboratories were operated by a small number of experienced chemists--primarily local Caucasian independent manufacturers--and were of limited capacity: three of which produced less than 2 ounces, and two of which produced between 2 and 8 ounces.

Table 17. Number of LSD Samples Submitted for Testing, in Dosage Units, 2000-2006

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
24,460,970 93,974 1,624 667 146,585 627 346,078

Source: System to Retrieve Information From Drug Evidence.


PCP production and distribution is limited and based primarily in southern California. PCP laboratory seizure data indicate that domestic PCP production is relatively low and decreasing. According to NSS data, only 39 PCP laboratories were seized from 2002 through 2006; moreover, the number of seized laboratories has decreased every year since 2003 (see Table 7 in Appendix C). Most of the laboratories seized since 2002 were small (capable of producing less than 2 ounces); four were capable of producing more than 20 pounds. Law enforcement reporting from drug markets where PCP is most available, particularly Los Angeles, indicates that African American street gangs, primarily Bloods and Crips, control most PCP production and distribution; however, other criminal groups and independent dealers also produce PCP. Most PCP production occurs in southern California. In fact, of the 39 labs seized from 2002 through 2006, 32 were seized in California; 17 of the 32 were located in Los Angeles. In addition to southern California, street gangs distribute PCP primarily in the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions, especially in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Some PCP distribution has also been reported in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas.


GHB production and availability have decreased to low levels. GHB trafficking has declined to a low level since its apparent peak in 2000. NSS data reveal that domestic production of the drug is limited--only 86 laboratories have been seized since 2000 (see Table 7 in Appendix C). Most of the seized laboratories were small-capacity laboratories (in which less than 2 ounces typically were produced) located in residences. Most of the limited GHB production that occurs domestically appears to take place in California and Texas, according to seizure data. These states report the highest number of laboratory seizures between 2000 and 2007 among states indicating GHB laboratory activity (eight and five, respectively). Moreover, recent law enforcement reporting has identified GHB production in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Dallas. Analysis of NSS data also reveals that some foreign-produced GHB originating in Europe has been seized in the United States. For example, NSS data for 2006 show 247 seizures of GHB that entered the United States from Europe, particularly England, totaling 230.5 pounds.

Overall, GHB availability is very limited, as evidenced by infrequent law enforcement reporting of GHB distribution. For example, only 6 of 930 OCDETF case initiations in 2006 referenced GHB production or distribution by the organization under investigation. Moreover, NDTS 2007 data show that most state and local law enforcement agencies (81.7%) report either low or no availability of GHB in their areas.

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Intelligence Gaps

The precise proportion of Canadian- and European-produced MDMA in U.S. drug markets is unclear. Although Canada appears to be the primary source of MDMA distributed in U.S. drug markets, the ratio of Canadian MDMA to European MDMA in these drug markets cannot be precisely ascertained with available data and reporting.

Predictive Estimates

MDMA use has decreased since peaking in 2001; however, use of the drug may increase in the near term. NSDUH and MTF data both reveal a significant overall decrease in past year rates of MDMA use among all measured age groups since 2002 (see Table 1 and Table 2 in Appendix C). However, past year use among both eighth and twelfth graders trended slightly upward from 2005 to 2006. Moreover, the perceived harmfulness of trying MDMA once or twice decreased among tenth and twelfth graders and decreased significantly among eighth graders between 2005 and 2006 (see Table 8 in Appendix C). Declines in perceived harmfulness of use at a time of increasing production and distribution by Canada-based Asian DTOs could result in increased rates of MDMA use in the near term.

End Note

20. LSD seizures have fluctuated since 2000, and because thousands of dosage units of LSD may be contained in a single small bottle of LSD, year-to-year fluctuations can appear significant when, in fact, the difference may only be the result of a single seizure of liquid LSD. (Since 2000, seizures have remained far below those of previous years, fluctuating between .00256 percent and .0141 percent of the seizures made in 2000.)

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