POLICE in the New Forest are today celebrating the biggest seizure of Ecstasy ever made in the area.

More than 1,000 tablets of the illegal Class-A drug were discovered when officers raided a house at Lyndhurst Road, Brockenhurst

The operation was carried out by members of the New Forest Crime Unit, who also found one-and-a-half kilos of herbal cannabis.

Two men aged 20 and 24 were arrested and taken to Lyndhurst police station for questioning.

Chief Insp Keith Deakin, of New Forest police, said officers swooped on the house after a tip-off from a member of the public.

He added: "Drugs with a street value of more than £10,000 were found at the property.

"Officers recovered more than 1,000 Ecstasy tablets, plus 1.5 kilos of cannabis and the hydroponic equipment used to grow the drug.

"It's the biggest seizure of Ecstasy in the New Forest and will have a significant impact on the supply of drugs in the area."

The huge haul comes just days after a government report revealed that drug abuse is now rife in rural England.

Brockenhurst councillor Maureen Holding said: "The drugs scene is everywhere these days, but yesterday's discovery will still come as a shock to a lot of people in the village."

The raid follows an explosion in the use of Ecstasy across the country. Experts say the drug has doubled in popularity following a sharp drop in its price, which at one stage fell to £1 per tablet.

Last year, a hard-hitting UN report said about 730,000 Britons had taken Ecstasy in the previous 12 months.

The report revealed that the number of Ecstasy-related deaths in England and Wales had risen sixfold - from 12 in 1996 to 72 in 2002. During that period, a total of 202 people died after taking the drug.

Recent studies suggest that one million people use Ecstasy in Britain every weekend.

Users say it induces a sense of euphoria, followed by a feeling of calm but large doses of the drug can cause panic and confusion.

Ecstasy also affects body temperature and, combined with dancing for long periods, often results in over-heating. Most of the deaths have been from dehydration.