Brazil’s police seized 80 times more ecstasy tabs this year compared to 2010, a sign that availability of the synthetic drug is rising dramatically inside the country.
A report by the Guardian from Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third largest city, notes that local police seized more than 70,000 ecstasy tabs this year.
The city’s booming economy, including an airport which now has direct flights to Europe, has helped turned Belo Horizonte into a hub for the trafficking of synthetic drugs. Virtually all of them are smuggled from overseas, police told the newspaper.
Ecstasy use appears to be rising across Brazil. According to Infosur, Brazilian police seized about 209,000 tablets this year. In contrast, 2010 saw just 2,740 pills seized.
Brazil does not produce illegal synthetic drugs, with only three laboratories for ecstasy or methaphetamine production discovered in the past three years.
One of the largest seizures of ecstasy this year saw 18,000 tablets confiscated in north Brazil last July.
Brazil is one of Latin America’s most significant consumers of cocaine and, as the Guardian argues, the rising popularity of ecstasy is one sign that trends are shifting.
While both traffickers and users of ecstasy appear to come from Brazil’s middle class, poorer communities have been more impacted by the use of cocaine derivatives. Brazil recently announced a $2 billion program intended to support treatment of crack cocaine addiction.