JADE makes undercover ecstasy bust

ecstasyLast night, the Jade Task Force (the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force) seized 1000 Ecstasy tablets with a street vale of $25,000 during an undercover operation in the 1700 block area of Hydraulic Road, according to a press release. Hung Ngoc Nguyen, 49, was arrested on two counts of distributing the drug and is being held without bond at the Albemarle/Charlottesville Regional Jail. Police also say the investigation is ongoing and some additional arrests are pending.

Patented in 1912 by the German pharmaceutical company Merck, the drug –-technically known as Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, street names for which include Ecstasy, Adam, XTC, hug, beans, and the love drug–-was later studied as a biological weapon by the U.S. Army in the 1950s and given the name EA-1475. Psychotherapists later used the drug to help patients remove psychological defenses and improve their capacity for introspection. In the 1970s, it began to be used as a recreational drug, but really took off in the early 1980s when it became the “club drug” of choice, along with cocaine, at city club scenes and dance parties. Users report feelings of empathy, openness and well-being while on the drug, which has an effect that lasts from 3 to 6 hours.

The drug was made illegal in 1985, but its popularity continued to soar. In the 1990s, it became the club drug of choice at raves, a kind of frenzied version of the early dance party movement of the 1980s.

Although death rates for ecstasy are statistically low, reported deaths of otherwise young, healthy rave-goers over the last decade have raised concerns about the safety of the drug. In high doses, the drug can cause sharp increases in body temperature, resulting in liver, kidney, and heart failure. Of course, the same risks are present with the use of stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Today, ecstasy is one of the four most widely used illegal drugs in the world, along with cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. According to a national drug survey conducted in 2004, 450,000 people in the U.S age 12 and older had used the drug in the past 30 days.