April 7th, 2006 03:12 EST
U.S. Drug Czar Praises Dutch Disruption of Global Ecstasy Market
Washington -- John Walters, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug
Control Policy (ONDCP), has urged NATO’s North Atlantic Council
participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to
play a larger role in efforts to shore up institutional stability in
Afghanistan and discussed with Dutch officials their recent success in
disrupting the global market for the drug Ecstasy.
Walters returned April 5 from a weeklong trip to Afghanistan, Belgium
and the Netherlands, where he addressed drug-related issues relevant to the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia.
Five years ago, the Dutch government released a five-year Ecstasy
strategy against synthetic drug production, trade and consumption --
particularly Ecstasy, or MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), ONDCP said in a press release.
At its peak in 2001, total domestic U.S. seizures of Ecstasy reached 11
million tablets. But over the past two years, total U.S. seizures declined
to less than 3 million tablets, and seizures of MDMA tablets shipped from abroad dropped from about 7 million in 2001 to less than 1.5 million in 2003 and 2004.
Ecstasy use among U.S. youths has decreased by two-thirds since 2002,
"Thanks to the leadership of Justice Minister [Piet Hein] Donner and
other Dutch officials,” Walters said, “law enforcement authorities in the
Netherlands have expanded customs efforts, increased their capacity to
dismantle laboratories, and intensified controls on precursor chemicals.”
Dutch officials have prosecuted key cases, dismantling the leadership
structure of major Ecstasy production and trafficking organizations and
disrupting the global Ecstasy market, he added.
Walters also repeated the U.S. commitment to the bilateral statement he and the Dutch health minister signed in July 2005 to expand Dutch-U.S. cooperation in demand reduction and scientific research.
He praised Health Minister Hans Hoogervorst and Donner for working to
reduce marijuana drug tourism to the Netherlands and educate young people about the health consequences of cannabis use.
In Belgium, Walters told NATO's North Atlantic Council that
Afghanistan's narcotics trade threatens its long-term stability and
security in Europe and around the world, and poses a threat to U.S. policy and strategic interests in the country and the region.
"While eradication and interdiction of drug producers and traffickers is
primarily a law enforcement role for Afghan forces,” Walters said, “the
International Security Assistance Force can play a valuable support role
centered on security and logistics."
Source: U.S. Dept. of State