Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thousands arrested in drug war

China Daily

Despite police arresting 58,000 suspected traffickers and seizing 6.9 tons of heroin last year, China's drug situation remains grave.

Chen Cunyi, deputy secretary-general of the National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC), yesterday said the war on drugs faced expanding drug sources as well as a rising number of addicts.

While the Golden Triangle especially the northern part of Myanmar remains the main source of heroin, the Golden Crescent area in Central Asian, particularly Afghanistan, is now supplying the drug trade in China with an increasing flow of "ice," or methamphetamine, and heroin, Chen told a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office.

There were only two or three cases involving heroin from the Golden Crescent several years ago, but last year saw nine, he said.

He said in 2005 about 104,000 hectares of Afghanistan was sown with poppies, with an opium yield of 4,100 tons, or 87 per cent of the world total.

Police last year cracked cases involving Afghan heroin in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, South China's Guangdong Province and even in Beijing, said Chen.

In addition, ketamine from India and Southeast Asia, as well as cocaine from South America were seized in China.

About 55 per cent of the 2.6 tons of ketamine seized in China last year came from India.

In November 2005 and March 2006, more than 440 kilograms of cocaine from South America was seized, said Chen.

Also, "new types of drugs are found to have been trafficked from European countries," he added.

In one case Chinese police seized 463 kilograms of ecstasy from the Netherlands.

"Suspects from home and abroad have colluded with each other, with drug lords running operations from other countries," said Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

"This is the distinct character of cross-border drug trafficking."

Liu noted that foreign drug lords were behind every one of the eight major drug cases handled by the MPS last year.

He said the drug lords provided funds as well as organizing smuggling and sales rings in China.

Moreover, weapons are becoming more prominent in drugs cases, added Chen.

In April 2005 China's top leadership declared a "people's war on drugs," asking the public to help the fight against addiction.

Chen said enthusiasm for the campaign has been extremely high, with some 250,000 tips on drug activity pouring in.

China recorded 785,000 drug addicts at the end of 2005, about 700,000, or 89 per cent, of whom were addicted to heroin.

Police across the country have vowed to step up the fight against drugs, following a recent series of drug seizures and arrests.

In Guangdong Province, police yesterday announced the smashing of a big cross-border drug manufacturing and trafficking gang in Shenzhen early last week.

A total of four Hong Kong residents were detained for further investigation after a secret drug production base was discovered in Shenzhen's Luohu District on June 11.

More than 36 kilograms of methamphetamine, or Ice, plus raw materials and production equipment were seized.

Yang Jianghua, director of Drug Crime Investigation Department under Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Security, said the crackdown has demonstrated the police's determination to fight drug crimes and bring illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking under control in the province.

Yang promised to further expand co-operation with Hong Kong and Macao counterparts, other international anti-drug organizations and customs departments in fighting drug related crimes in the coming months.

Guangdong police have uncovered more than 2,200 drug-related cases in the first five months this year.

More than 2,900 suspects, including a large number of foreigners and Hong Kong and Macao residents, have been detained or arrested, up 16.8 per cent year-on-year. Another 24,000 drug addicts were sent to drug rehabilitation centres, a 17 per cent increase year-on-year.

In Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, anti-drug officials have expressed concerns about drug use among white-collar workers and young people.

In the city's Nanjing-1912 entertainment area, drug dealing or use was discovered in 12 of the 22 bars and clubs during a recent check-up.

According to Teng Jianmin, a member of the city's anti-drug team, white-collar workers under 35-years-old and teenagers from well-off families are the main drug users in the bars.

"Most of them are not fully aware of the harm that the drugs might do to them. They said they took soft drugs just for fun and relaxation," said Teng. "But they usually lose self-discipline after taking drugs, which might harm both themselves and society."

During the past six months, the team has arrested 300 drug abusers and dealers, confiscated 5,000 ecstasy pills, and 3.2 kilograms of soft drugs like Ice from public entertainment venues across the city.

In Beijing, police said they are taking firm measures against the problem of drug use in entertainment venues.

Bars, KTV and disco venues are attractive destinations for a growing number of new types of drugs, Fu Zhenghua, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, told an anti-drug working conference yesterday.

He revealed that while trafficking and use of conventional drugs like heroin has been controlled, the abuse of ice and ecstasy pills in some entertainment venues is rampant.

"The new types of drugs are becoming our chief concern in our unremitting fight against drugs," Fu said.

Statistics show about 40 kilograms of Ice and ecstasy pills were confiscated last year in Beijing, more than half of the total amount of seized drugs.

By Jiang Zhuqing

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