13,000 Ecstacy pills seized
Police announced yesterday the take-down of an Asian gang on 27 indictments after a two-and-a-half-year investigation that yielded the seizure of over 13,000 Ecstasy pills that were targeted for high school and college students, officials said.
Twenty-three members of the Asian Pride gang were arrested yesterday in Colorado and California, leaving four members on the run, said U.S. Attorney for Colorado Troy Eid at a news conference yesterday afternoon at his Denver office. The ages of the suspects range from 20 to 35 years old. An undisclosed amount of money and several weapons were also seized, said police. Officials estimate that the pills had a street value of as much as $25 each and that the gang moved as many as 10,000 pills per week. The pills were stamped with octopus’, flowers, and dyed a variety of colors. Eid said drug manufacturers do so to appeal to the younger population.
“This particular drug takes a huge toll on young people in Colorado and throughout the states,” said Eid. “It is a drug that is so cynically marketed that there are widely reported instances of the pills being stamped with Tweety Bird, with the Pikachu character from ‘Pokémon,’ and the whole image that is created is that this is somehow a softer drug, a less risky alternative to more serious drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
In all, the indictment carries 109 counts, including conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of Ecstasy. Most of the arrests were made in Denver and Colorado Springs, but a few suspects were arrested in Sacramento, Calif., said officials.
Eid called the Asian Pride gang a “violent street gang” and said the take-down will make it very difficult for the organization to recover, if at all. Officials added that they believe the bust put a dent in a “big chunk” of the region’s Ecstasy supply.
The two-and-a-half-year investigation started with a double homicide in Aurora in April 2006, said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates. Two members of the Asian Pride gang were found dead. Oates said his department is closer to making an arrest in the case.
Officials stressed how difficult it was to conduct the investigation because of language and other cultural issues. Eid said the investigation was made a “regional priority target” for his office because of the violent and dangerous nature of the street gang.
Oates echoed Eid’s comments on targeting the younger population with the Ecstasy pills.
“This drug is marketed out in the community almost like it’s candy and that it’s somehow less harmful,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“Their work was designed to prey on our youngest and most vulnerable,” added Oates.
The suspects face up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine if found guilty.