World

Canada-based gangs dominate U.S. ecstasy trade: report

Canadian-based gangs are taking control of the production and sale of the illegal drug ecstasy in the United States, according to a U.S. government report.

Canada-based gangs are taking control of the production and distributionofthe drug ecstasy in the United States, according to a U.S. government report.

"Since 2004 Canada-based Asian criminal groups — primarily ethnic Vietnamese and Chinese — have been expanding MDMA [ecstasy] distribution and have significantly elevated MDMA availability," according tothe annual drug threat assessment by the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center.

It said an estimated $5.2 billion to $21.2 billion US is generated by Canada-based drug trade organizations through thedistribution of marijuana and ecstasy, also known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA.

Despite the billions of dollarsspent on antidrug efforts, the report said illegal drugs,from marijuana to heroin, areeasily accessibleacross the United States.

RCMP Supt. Paul Nadeau, director of the agency's drug branch in Ottawa, said it's no big surprise that some of the drugs come from Canada.

Nadeau said he agrees with parts of the U.S. report that reveal changes in Americans' appetite for drugs and how Canadian-based gangs are responding.

He said Asian organized crime groupsin Canada used to be heavily involved in heroin distribution, but havechanged their focus to the ecstasy trade.

"We have seen a shift in the last few years," he told CBC News. "I think that's just an indication of the amount of demand out there. They see a greater opportunity to make money."

The report also said the marijuana being sold is the most potent ever, some of it coming out of Canadian grow-ops.

Nadeau said the report simply reflects the reality of the drug trade and doesn't necessarily mean Canada and the U.S. are squabbling about who is to blame.

"There seems to be this illusion or perception that we're fighting with each other, but that's not the case at all," he said.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on what, if anything, Canada is being asked to do about the problems outlined in the report.