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Intro to Ecstasy

At dance clubs in Orlando and across the globe, the electronic music scene has become known for MDMA, the synthetic drug that fuels the party. MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is more commonly known by its street names of Molly or Ecstasy. Despite its sometimes deadly effects, Ecstasy continues to be a hallmark of the electronic dance music scene, and a target for law enforcement worldwide and in Orlando, where the drug has been a part of "rave" culture for over two decades.

MDMA Possession Penalties

In Florida, the penalties for possession of less than 10 grams of MDMA can include 5 years in prison, 5 years probation, a $5,000 fine, vehicle forfeiture and drivers license suspension. Possession of 10 grams or more is felony drug trafficking and comes with a minimum 3 year sentence. With the typical MDMA dose being 100 milligrams, it would take 100 capsules or more to reach the threshold of trafficking.

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Stimulation and Hallucination

Ecstasy or MDMA is mainly a stimulant that’s similar to amphetamine, but it also acts as a mild hallucinogenic like mescaline. An MDMA dose lasts for 3 to 6 hours and functions by boosting serotonin and dopamine in the brain's neurotransmitters, while also providing the illusion of energy, which "ravers" use to dance all night. But high doses can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, sometimes leading to sharp increases in body temperature and potential liver, kidney or cardiovascular system failure, proving fatal in many cases nationwide.

The serotonin produced by MDMA influences mood, sexual arousal, and feelings of trust. Its users often show increased displays of empathy, touching and closeness. Hours later, MDMA depletes the brain of these neurotransmitters, causing users to feel depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation as they come off the drug.

Ecstasy’s History in Orlando

​MDMA first showed up in the club scene under the name of “Adam,” where it was popular in Dallas gay clubs in the early 1980s. From there it spread to other cities and was eventually classified a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance in 1985. Its illegal classification hasn’t slowed the popularity of the drug, and when the rave dance music scene took off in Orlando in the 1990s, Ecstasy came with it.

In one such example from the Orlando Weekly archives, police raided one of Orlando’s biggest rave clubs - The Club at Firestone - in 1999 after undercover agents made 34 MDMA buys from 24 dealers over the course of a few months, though the raid produced just three drug arrests. Police raids were a part of a larger effort to shut down all-night raves that encouraged MDMA use.

Ecstasy Pills

Today, MDMA isn’t always sold in its pure form, as sometimes it’s mixed with other substances to make Ecstasy pills, which can include LSD, cocaine, heroin, caffeine, amphetamine and methamphetamine. In some cases, even rat poison and dog deworming drugs are used. These pills are generally stamped with a logo, letter or symbol to give the dealer a “brand” to market the pill. Over the years, Ecstasy pills have also been known as beans, Adam, the love pill, a roll, the hug drug, E, X and “Scooby snacks.”​

Smuggling Ecstacy

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, MDMA often comes into Orlando from Europe, especially the Netherlands and Belgium by way of Israeli and Russian drug smuggling rings. Caribbean, Colombian and Dominican drug rings also bring MDMA into Florida. The drug is also smuggled in via passenger airlines, package delivery services, shipping containers or by air freight.​

Importing MDMA is big business, as the DEA realized when it seized $95 million in cash off MDMA drug traffickers in just two days during one crackdown. Orlando played a central role in a 2005 DEA bust that broke up a drug ring importing MDMA from Asia through Canada. In Operation Sweet Tooth, DEA agents arrested 291 people, including more than 30 Floridians, and seized more than 1 million MDMA pills and $7.5 million in assets.

Homemade Ecstasy

MDMA can be made in a lab or even at home, as one University of Central Florida biomedical student engaged in before police uncovered his operation. According to an Orlando Sentinel story, the police found 400 grams of MDMA, $40,000 in cash, and a handwritten formula for making the drug. The student’s growing Molly distribution network was disrupted after a traffic stop for not wearing a seat belt led to the uncovering of 100 Ecstasy pills in the student's car.

The Cost of Ecstasy

A kilogram of Molly can be bought online for between $2,500 and $5,000, which dealers can turn around for $8,000 to $15,000 or more. Usually, mid-level dealers get capsule shipments in the thousands, who then supply retail dealers with packets of hundreds of MDMA capsules. These capsules usually contain about 100 mg of MDMA and costs between $30 and $40.

If you or someone you know is facing drug possession or trafficking charges, contact our law firm today to discuss your case.