Here the analysis of the production methods and distribution tactics will be discussed in regards to MDMA. Building on the previous discourse on the large Dutch involvement in production, it is important to understand how and where these “labs” exist. It is reported that over 80 percent of the world’s MDMA is manufactured in clandestine laboratories in homes, warehouses, and basements across Europe and North America (Blickman 2005). Also, 42 percent of seized MDMA entering the U.S. comes from the Netherlands (Blickman 2005). While pharmaceutical firms in Asia such as the case in India where two companies were caught supplying the chemicals needed for production, most of the chemistry takes place within these well designed and efficient set ups (Blickman 2005). Due largely in part to the global illegality of the substance, many operations are following the trend of seeking efficiency rather than large scale production. Quality product is attributed to these clandestine labs while low quality is characteristic of the entirely Asian manufacturers.
What this demonstrates is the global adaptation to law enforcements goal of finding and destroying large scale operations such as the case with cartels in Latin and South America with cocaine and marijuana. These cliques and small syndicates tap into the already widespread and well established trafficking routes that other substances have utilized for generations. These include the ports such as those in Rotterdam and the airports in Amsterdam specifically dealing with the producers in the Netherlands. While these serve as prime examples for the global case, it also shows that there are still no guaranteed means of trafficking since customs is involved in every attempt at moving the product internationally. With Israeli connections handling this trafficking across borders, the product is then placed in the hands of the disconnect but well organized and established Russian crime organizations inside many of the target consumer countries in North American and the European Union (Agar and Reisinger 2003).
In recognizing the uniqueness of the ecstasy trade in regards to a lack of massive production under one organization, the case of online drug retail sites, specifically Silk Road, can help to explain how MDMA has adapted to its particular case. Opened for business in February of 2011, this website utilizes and encrypted browser called TOR which enables the consumer to navigate the pages of an “ebay-like” interface to purchase nearly any substance imaginable (Christin 2012). Buyers can select from 220 distinct categories with the most prolific origins of production/shipping residing in the United States, the U.K., the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, and Australia; the Netherlands being the primary supplier for MDMA (Christin 2012). With monthly revenues of $1.2 million the system is clearly working and avoiding detection with large reports of customer satisfaction (Christin 2012).
On the site, users can purchase Bitcoins which serve as currency and are also untraceable rendering the consumer virtually invisible online (Baratt 2012). Trust in the producer/distributor stands within their customer reviews which accumulate and create a sellers score helping to direct consumers towards reputable products and distribution (Baratt 2012). The main risk of this process deals with the transportation itself such as well a package is seized by customs, the receiver may be implicated and arrested for the attempt to import illegal substances.
With a demographic that deals specifically in MDMA, the consumers as a collective have utilized ingenuity and modern technology to thwart normal risks of dealing with suppliers on the streets or in clubs. This technology has also allowed for the education of users on how to use, acquire, and even produce MDMA courtesy of Google and its page rank system which directs the curious to pages on how to access Silk Road and forums on the like (Deluca and Schifano 2007).