Feds Make $40 Million Ecstasy Bust

Federal agents in Los Angeles have seized 11,000 pounds of Ecstacy in what authorities say is the largest confiscation of the drug ever.

CBS News station KCBS-TV reports the stash is worth more than $40 million dollars and amounts to more than two million doses.

Three men were arrested Tuesday in connection with the operation, but authorities were still searching for Tamer Ibrahim, 26, of Los Angeles, the alleged ringleader.

Los Angeles U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas called the ring "a drug organization with tentacles throughout the world."

The drugs were seized Saturday at Los Angeles International airport after arriving on an Air France plane from Paris in a 15-box shipment labeled "pencils." Investigators say the drugs originated in Amsterdam.

Ecstasy is a synthetic drug manufactured mostly in Europe and commonly used at nightclubs and underground "rave" parties. A hallucinogenic stimulant that gives its users a feeling of euphoria, Ecstasy is also said to cause brain damage and have other side effects.

Authorities say the drug, which comes in pill or liquid form, costs about 25 cents per dose to manufacture and usually sells for about $20 per tablet.

The seizure marked the high point of a 10-month investigation by authorities.

The four suspects are thought to be behind imports of more than 1,000 pounds of Ecstasy found in San Francisco, Germany, Italy and Los Angeles over the past seven months.

Officials say the cache confiscated Saturday represented one-fourth of the 8 million tablets of Ecstasy seized in the United States this year. By comparison, only 400 tablets of the drug were seized in the United States three years ago.

Seizures of Ecstasy in the United States have increased dramatically over the past year. The Customs Service said it had seized nearly 8 million tablets over the last 10 months compared to 3.5 million tablets in 1999.

CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Reuters Limited contributed to this report