Ecstasy Seizures in Chile Are on the Rise

Ecstasy Seizures in Chile Are on the Rise

By Guillermo Saavedra/Diálogo
September 10, 2020

Ecstasy seizures in Chile have increased drastically, rising from about 400,000 doses to more than 1.2 million between 2018 and 2019, according to the Office of the Attorney General’s Narcotrafficking Observatory of Chile 2020 Report, published on July 29. The report also notes the proliferation nationwide of labs for synthetic drugs, especially ecstasy, a phenomenon it describes as “a different phase in narcotrafficking than what was carried out Chile.”

In 2019, Chile’s National police and the Investigations Police found at least 15 clandestine labs, six of which were likely used to process synthetic drugs, the report says. The document specifies that “these labs do not produce nor synthesize drugs, only dosing.”

“What did happen is that criminals have set up a process to manufacture pills, using pure ecstasy that comes from abroad,” Commissioner Patricio Navarro, head of the Ministry of the Interior’s Department of Controlled Chemical Substances, told the Chilean newspaper La Tercera.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2020, ecstasy continues to be mainly produced in Europe.

The report says that two-thirds of the ecstasy labs that authorities dismantled worldwide between 2014-2018 were located in Europe. Several indicators, such as the number of dismantled labs, the number of seizures carried out, and the quantity of ecstasy seized suggest that the global supply has likely increased between 2010 and 2018, the report says.

The Chilean Office of the Attorney General’s Anti-drug Unit has identified three main ecstasy-smuggling routes into Chile, La Tercera reported: by mail from Europe — more specifically from the Netherlands and Spain — by mail from Colombia and other neighboring countries, and by land from Argentina.

“This country [Argentina] has reported the existence of a route from the Netherlands, with stopovers in Brazil and Uruguay,” Luis Toledo, director of the Anti-drug Unit, told La Tercera. “The contact between Chilean traffickers and their Argentine counterparts allows the former to travel and obtain the substance in the neighboring country and then bring the drug into Chile, hidden in bags and in vehicles’ void spaces.”

In September 2019, during a combined operation between Chilean and Argentine security forces, authorities disrupted a gang that was sending drugs from Buenos Aires to Santiago. According to InSight Crime, an organization that specializes in security threats in Latin America and the Caribbean, authorities captured 10 people, after detecting a mail package containing 1.6 kilograms of powdered ecstasy. The criminal gang used the powder to make pills.

“No other drug in the history of the country has increased so drastically in such a short period, both in seizures and […] consumption,” Toledo told La Tercera.