XTC or ecstasy (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a popular “party drug” among adolescents and young adults. It reduces inhibitions and promotes euphoria and increased sensuality. However, XTC can interfere with the ability to regulate body temperature. This can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia) resulting in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular failure. Repeated use of the drug can also cause permanent brain damage.
Belgium and the Netherlands are the world’s major producers of XTC tablets. Though XTC is an illegal drug in both countries, operating clandestine laboratories is a very lucrative business for criminals. Small laboratories can produce large numbers of tablets quickly at low cost. Moreover, the risk of being caught is minimal: the laboratories are inconspicuous and can be easily cleared and moved. Reports estimate that over 2 million tablets produced in Belgium and the Netherlands are smuggled into the U.S. each week.