- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The reputed leader of an international Ecstasy ring that supplied 15 percent of the U.S. Ecstasy market has been extradited from Canada to the United States on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges, the Drug Enforcement Administration said yesterday.

DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy said the March arrest and extradition this week of Ze Wai Wong — the result of an undercover investigation known as Operation Candy Box — resulted in a “significant aftershock” in the U.S. Ecstasy market, dropping both the availability and purity of the drug.

“The extradition of Ze Wai Wong to stand trial in the U.S. is a fitting conclusion to Wong’s reign of preying on the U.S. with this dangerous drug that is primarily peddled to our youth,” Mrs. Tandy said. “For the first time in all law enforcement, DEA has measured the impact of this operation, revealing that Operation Candy Box decimated the U.S. MDMA [Ecstasy] market — dramatically reducing MDMA availability, slashing its purity and raising its price.”

DEA spokesman Ed Childress said Wong faces drug trafficking and conspiracy charges stemming from an indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in New York. If convicted, he faces 40 years in prison.

Mr. Childress said Wong was arrested in Canada along with more than 130 others in 16 cities in the United States as part of Operation Candy Box. He said the arrests marked the culmination of the two-year multi-jurisdictional and international Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation.

He said the investigation revealed that bulk quantities of Ecstasy were being produced in clandestine labs in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal and smuggled into the United States. In August 2003, he said, Canadian officials discovered and dismantled three fully operational tableting laboratories.

Mr. Childress said the Wong organization was capable of distributing up to 1 million Ecstasy tablets per month in the United States and Canada, using a sophisticated money laundering network and travel agencies in both the United States and Canada to launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds.

More than 400,000 Ecstasy tablets were seized during the investigation, along with 1,370 pounds of marijuana, 6.5 pounds of methamphetamine and $8.9 million in cash.

Mrs. Tandy said the seizure of $8.9 million in U.S. currency prevented the distribution of up to 34 million Ecstasy tablets.

Operation Candy Box was a joint investigation involving the DEA, FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department and state and local law-enforcement agencies, along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Border Services Agency and police in Toronto, Ontario and Ottawa.

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