China faces long battle in drug crackdown
Updated: 2013-07-03 02:19
By By Zhang Yan
China still faces a grim task in its fight against drug crime because of rampant smuggling from abroad and huge domestic demand, according to an anti-drug official from the Ministry of Public Security.
"Most drugs consumed around the country are smuggled," Liu Yuejin, director of the narcotics control bureau under the Ministry of Public Security, said at a news conference on Tuesday.
A fleet of law enforcement vessels patrol the Mekong River on May 17 in a four-day joint drill involving China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
The ministry said about 70 percent of drugs found in the underground market in China came from the Golden Triangle area, such as Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.
Drugs from the "Golden Crescent" region — home to the biggest producers of opium in the world — are constantly smuggled to China through maritime, air and land, and cocaine from South America often comes to China through coastal areas.
There's a huge market for illegal drugs in China, and drug takers include the unemployed, private business owners and sports and film stars, Liu said.
According to the ministry, as of the end of May, the number of registered drug addicts in the country had reached 2.22 million.
"With the unbalanced development in China's eastern and western areas, drug-related crimes have become thorny and complex in some areas," Liu said.
For example, in some underdeveloped areas in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Tibet autonomous region, and Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, local residents often go to other provinces to engage in drug trafficking, he said.
Some drug traffickers take advantage of special groups, including pregnant women, the disabled, elderly people and minors to assist with drug trafficking, he said.
Liu said China will intensify efforts to crack down on drug crimes and try to block drugs from overseas sources.
The government will monitor closely the production and use of precursor chemicals to prevent them from being used to produce drugs, he said.
China will also enhance judicial cooperation with neighboring countries, especially Laos, Myanmar and Thailand and share information along the Mekong River, he said.
"We will work with them to try to eliminate the poppy planting in northern Laos and northern Myanmar, and promote a strategy for alternative cultivation, and enhance the use of advanced technologies, such as satellite surveillance to monitor drug planting in Golden Triangle area," Liu said.
On April 20, four countries — China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand — initiated a two-month crackdown against drugs along the Mekong River.
As of June 20, police from the four countries had arrested 2,534 suspects and seized about 9.78 metric tons of drugs, according to the ministry.
Wu Suohan, diplomat officer of Myanmar's embassy to China, said: "The joint law enforcement mechanism among the four countries has indeed played an essential role in combating drugs and severe criminal cases along the Mekong River."
Since the establishment of the security mechanism, law enforcement officers from the four countries have shared intelligence, discussed and exchanged views, he said.
"Previously, the four countries could only exchange views and request judicial assistance through diplomatic and judicial channels," he said.