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Feds seize thousands of MDMA pills after undercover operation

Updated June 15, 2017 - 10:10 pm

Federal authorities seized thousands of blue transformer-shaped MDMA pills and arrested three men on drug charges Wednesday after a law enforcement sting operation that took place two days before the Electric Daisy Carnival opens in Las Vegas.

The three men made initial appearances Thursday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ordered them detained pending future proceedings in the case. During the hearings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Jaroch outlined the undercover operation that led to the arrests, which he said occurred after 26-year-old Jordan Cambridge sold roughly 5,000 of the Ecstasy pills to an undercover federal agent.

When authorities arrested Cambridge after the drug sale, they found 219 blue transformer-shaped MDMA pills in his pocket and 5,400 pills in the brown bag he gave to the undercover federal agent, Jaroch said.

That led to a search of a North Las Vegas residence, which Jaroch described as a “stash house,” where officers found over 5,000 more pills. After the search, authorities also arrested Luther Harper, 30, and Bernard Griggley, 36, on drug conspiracy and related charges.

“Large quantities of MDMA were found as well as guns,” the prosecutor said, referring to the search of the residence.

Harper, a felon, also was accused of illegal possession of a firearm.

The arrests Wednesday occurred as the city prepares for one of the nation’s largest dance music festivals. Seven substance-related deaths have been recorded since EDC came to Las Vegas in 2011 — including one last year, when a 20-year-old woman died from a combination of drug use and environmental heat stress. MDMA is a popular “party drug” used to produce feelings of euphoria. In high doses, it can cause a sharp increase in body temperature, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Jaroch, the federal prosecutor, revealed in court Thursday that federal authorities have been eyeing Cambridge since as early as May, when he sold 1,007 MDMA pills to an undercover agent for $2,400. After that transaction, authorities followed Cambridge back to the so-called “stash house” and subsequently set up an additional sale on June 2. On that day, Cambridge sold the undercover officer “895 pressed MDMA pills for $3000,” Jaroch said. The undercover officer then set up the third sale, Wednesday, which led to Cambridge’s arrest.

Contact Jenny Wilson at jenwilson@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Follow @jennydwilson on Twitter.

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