After a nearly year-long investigation, Australian and Dutch authorities busted an illicit MDMA ring that was poised to traffick 15 million ecstasy pills across Europe and Oceania.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Parazonium, started in January with Queenland’s Joint Organized Task Force, a massive Australian law enforcement group that includes both federal and local agencies. By August, the investigation led Australian authorities to the Netherlands and a partnership with Dutch police.
So far, eleven people have been charged and arrested as part of the international ecstasy ring, including one woman based in Sydney who now faces life in prison.
Operation Parazonium seized several kilograms of oils and crystals composed of relatively pure MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy. Authorities estimate that the oils and crystalline isolates could produce up to 15 million ecstasy tablets worth a total of $301 million on the street.
“The sad reality is these drugs were destined for our Australian communities to be diluted with other contaminants and then falsely pedalled as a safe drug,” Queensland Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford said in a statement, according to NEWS.com.au.
“They are anything but this, in fact they are made by unsophisticated and unqualified people in clandestine conditions whose priority is not the authenticity of their product but profit.”
Australia has wrestled with contaminated ecstasy pills for years, especially as the drug has exploded in popularity among festival goers. Recently, several young people have died as a result of overdosing on ecstasy pills that may have been spiked with other, more dangerous drugs such as meth, bath salts, or fentanyl.
In fact, Australia’s ecstasy overdose problem has reached a head, with some legislators pushing for regulated pill testing at concerts and festivals to minimize harm. Other legislators and activists are taking it one step further by demanding the full legalization or decriminalization of MDMA to ensure that partiers are taking clean, unadulterated pills.
The Netherlands has also been wrestling with its illicit ecstasy market, even going so far as to develop a perfume that smells like ecstasy manufacturing labs so the public can better detect and report them. In fact, Amsterdam is largely considered one of the world’s busiest ecstasy trafficking hubs, and one writer recently warned that the country is on its way to becoming a genuine narco-state — with judges, attorneys, and legislators at risk of being assassinated by organized crime syndicates — if authorities don’t get the situation under control.
Of course, the easiest, most humane solution is to simply legalize or decriminalize MDMA. It doesn’t just get people high AF, it can also assuage the damage of past traumas, as well as facilitate deep social bonding that can’t be found in other drugs such as alcohol or cannabis. If taken at reasonable doses and spaced at least a month apart, MDMA may be relatively safe for most healthy people.
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