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Nearly 600K Ecstasy pills netted in major bust

July 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
One of the biggest drug busts in U.S. history netted perhaps as many as half-a-million "Ecstasy" pills Friday, and more than a dozen suspects were arrested.A unit in an apartment complex was one of several locations targeted by a special task force. Other locations included the city of Industry, West Covina and El Monte. Investigators think they have kingpins of a major drug operation in custody.

They are called "candy," "happy pills," the "hug drug" -- terms of deception for little tablets that can kill.

Friday, a ring of 15 suspects is under arrest for big-time dealing of Ecstasy in the Southland.

"The conservative count -- and we're still in the process of counting them -- was at least 510,000 pills of Ecstasy, which is a staggering amount of Ecstasy," said Mack Jenkins, assistant U.S. attorney, Los Angeles. "In fact it's the second-largest federal seizure of Ecstasy in U.S. history."

A special task force made the bust of a multinational crime organization with warehouses and stash locations.

"Beverly Hills and DEA have taken the lead in this particular investigation and have worked it, in my own knowledge, for over seven months," said Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Shan Davis.

"We are arresting people and doing operations for 30,000 pills. Here, we have done essentially a hundred times that, ultimately, at the end of the day," said Jenkins.

The alleged ringleader is Jimmy Luong of Monterey Park. According to court records, he is responsible for the distribution of 934,000 Ecstasy pills.

Los Angeles is a prime market for the party drug, particularly on the club scene and rave concerts and parties.

Investigators were not surprised at who they found mingling at the Electric Daisy Carnival at the L.A. Coliseum.

"We do know that at least two of our targets went to that event," said Jenkins.

Ecstasy sent some people to local emergency rooms. Sasha Rodriguez, 15, died of a suspected overdose.

The trafficking business is dangerous for other reasons too.

"We seized guns. We seized assault rifles. We seized handguns. They were loaded. Our defendants were arrested with handguns on them. They don't care about who, whether they have a good time, whether they die," said Jenkins. "They care about that they get their money."

Investigators believe this seizure will definitely have an impact on raves scheduled for this summer in the Southland.

The suspects' arraignment is set for Aug. 9.


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