d3881BSSG3EDD590.lg

(photo by Photo Courtesy Smpd)

LINCOLN BLVD — About 40 pounds of Ecstasy were discovered stashed inside of a parked car here on Sunday after Santa Monica Police and federal agents busted a Northern California man believed to be trafficking drugs.

Ramandeep Singh Sandhu, 25, of Fremont, was booked by SMPD after authorities found about 51,000 tablets of MDMA — believed to be worth more than $1 million — inside of the suspect’s backpack around 5:15 p.m. He has since been transferred to federal custody and charged with narcotics trafficking. He is believed to be a Canadian national.

“We know he has made frequent trips to Canada and we are trying to figure out what his nation of origin is,” said SMPD Sgt. Robert Almada, who heads up the Vice Unit.

Upon receiving information, a team consisting of SMPD narcotics investigators, agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the El Monte Police Department, which happened to be in the area, spotted a suspicious person in a parked car near the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Broadway. A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of the hallucinogenic drug.

Investigators believe the suspect intended to distribute the drug.

If convicted, Sandhu could face 12-15 years in prison.

“(Sandhu) is looking at significant time,” Almada said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methylenedioxymethamphetamine is a psychoactive drug that produces feelings of euphoria and emotional warmth while causing “distortions in time perception.” Use of the drug can lead to depression, anxiety and confusion.

The arrest last weekend was the most recent in a series of drug busts that the department has been involved in over the past year.

The department assisted in a two-year investigation that led to the October 2008 arrest of seven people allegedly linked to a drug trafficking ring in which Ecstasy and marijuana were shipped to the United States and cocaine to Canada. A Santa Monica resident was among the suspects arrested.

The SMPD last July also arrested a man believed to have smuggled Ecstasy into the country from Canada in exchange for caches of cocaine.

melodyh@smdp.com