Okaloosa County sheriff's Sgt. Arnold Brown said Tuesday that investigators found enough chemicals and equipment for making 2,300 hits of ecstasy in a shed behind the home of 31-year-old Kevin John Reeves on Monday.
Reeves, 31, had been arrested last week by police in nearby Fort Walton Beach on charges he sold about 50 ecstasy pills to an informant.
"By his own admission, he learned how to do all of this right off the Internet," Arnold said. "The information is out there and it's easy to get, unfortunately."
The shed in this Florida Panhandle community contained large quantities of sassafras oil, which is used to derive safrole, a precursor chemical for making the drug, also known as methylenedioxy-n-methylamphetamine, or MDMA.
"This guy had exactly what he needs to make ecstasy, and a lot of those chemicals can be really hazardous if they aren't handled properly," Arnold said. "He had huge waste tubs of mercury and all kinds of other things."
Scales and approximately 2,300 gel caps also were also found. Arnold said investigators suspect Reeves had been manufacturing the drug for about eight months.
Reeves is charged with trafficking in MDMA with additional charges of manufacturing the drug pending. He remained at the county jail in Crestview on Wednesday with bond set at $50,000.
Typical effects of ecstasy include increased energy, wakefulness, and a sense of euphoria, but users also can experience chest pain, shortness of breath, nervous energy and increased risks of anxiety, depression, Parkinson's disease, liver failure and heart attack. Overdoses can be fatal.
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- Its chemical structure, 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, (MDMA) is similar to methamphetamine, methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), and mescaline - other synthetic drugs known to cause brain damage.
- MDMA is a synthetic, psychoactive drug with both stimulant (amphetamine-like) and hallucinogenic (LSD-like) properties.
- Street names for MDMA include Ecstasy, Adam, XTC, hug, beans, and love drug.
- MDMA also is neurotoxic. In addition, in high doses it can cause a sharp increase in body temperature (malignant hyperthermia) leading to muscle breakdown and kidney and cardiovascular system failure.
- Brain imaging research in humans indicates that MDMA causes injury to the brain, affecting neurons that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons.
- The serotonin system plays a direct role in regulating mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep and sensitivity to pain. Many of the risks users face with MDMA use are similar to those found with the use of cocaine and amphetamines.
- Psychological difficulties, including confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, severe anxiety and paranoia persist during and sometimes weeks after taking MDMA.
- Physical symptoms can occur such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, rapid eye movement, faintness and chills or sweating.
- There can be increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory or heart disease.
- Also, there is evidence that people who develop a rash that looks like acne after using MDMA may be risking severe side effects, including liver damage, if they continue to use the drug.
Use Among Teens
- From 1999 to 2000, the use of MDMA increased among all three grade levels, eighth, 10th, and 12th.
- For 10th- and 12th-graders, this is the second consecutive year MDMA use has increased.
- Past year use of MDMA increased among eighth graders from 1.7 percent in 1999 to 3.1 percent in 2000; from 4.4 percent to 5.4 percent among 10th-graders; and from 5.6 percent to 8.2 percent among 12th-graders.
- Also among 12th-graders, the perceived availability of MDMA rose from 40.1 percent in 1999 to 51.4 percent in 2000.
Source: www.nida.org (National Institute on Drug Abuse Web site) contributed to this report.