DEA Finds Significant Nationwide Impact as a Result of International Ecstasy Investigation
JAN 18— WASHINGTON, D.C. - DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy announced today the extradition of DEA Priority Target Ze Wai Wong from Canada to the United States and DEA findings of a significant aftershock in the U.S. Ecstasy market caused by the dismantlement of the Ze Wai Wong international drug trafficking organization.
Ze Wai Wong -- alleged to be the leader of an international Ecstasy (MDMA) ring that supplied 15 % of the U.S. ecstasy market -- now faces charges in the United States for drug trafficking and conspiracy charges stemming from an indictment in the Southern District of New York. If convicted, Wong faces a maximum of 40 years in prison on all charges. Ze Wai Wong was arrested in Canada on March 31, 2004, along with more than 130 defendants in 16 cities across the United States, as part of an investigation dubbed Operation Candy Box. These arrests marked the culmination of a two-year multi-jurisdictional and international Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation that was coordinated by the multi-agency Special Operations Division targeting a significant MDMA and marijuana trafficking organization in both the United States and Canada.
“The extradition of Ze Wai Wong to stand trial in the U.S. is a fitting conclusion to Wong’s reign of preying on the U.S. with this dangerous drug that is primarily peddled to our youth,” said DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy. “For the first time in all law enforcement, DEA has measured the impact of this operation, revealing that Operation Candy Box decimated the US MDMA market – dramatically reducing MDMA availability, slashing its purity, and raising its price,” she said.
The DEA findings coincide with the findings of the December 2004 Monitoring the Future Survey that MDMA use by high school seniors plummeted 57% over the past three years. The Survey also reports a 24% decline in perceived availability of MDMA by high school seniors.
Operation Candy Box revealed that bulk quantities of MDMA tablets were being produced in clandestine labs in Canada and smuggled into the United States. This operation spanned 16 U.S. cities while Canadian authorities conducted related investigations in the cities of Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal. In August 2003, three fully operational tableting laboratories were discovered and dismantled by Canadian officials as a result of Operation Candy Box. According to information developed during the investigation, the organization was capable of distributing up to one million MDMA tablets per month in the U.S. and Canada. This organization utilized a sophisticated money laundering network of money remitters and travel agencies in both the U.S. and Canada to launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds. Seizures in Operation Candy Box totaled 407,000 MDMA tablets, 1,370 pounds of marijuana, 6.5 pounds of methamphetamine, and $8.9 million in currency.
As a result of Operation Candy Box, the nationwide MDMA market was crippled. Data from four cities (Los Angeles, California; Houston, Texas; New Orleans Louisiana; and Jacksonville, Florida) where the targeted organization operated revealed the following MDMA market impact by DEA and its law enforcement partners:
Operation Candy Box is a joint investigation involving the DEA, FBI, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the United States Attorneys, Department of Justice Criminal Division, and various state and local law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Border Services, Toronto Police Department, Ontario Provincial Police, and Ottawa Police Department.