How drug base fell to long arm of law
Updated: 2014-01-07 07:37
By Cui jia, He Na, Tang Yue in Beijing and Zheng Caixiong Boshe, Guangdong province (China Daily)
However, Boshe wasn't the only meth production center in the locality, and the drug has gained a reputation as a specialty product of many villages in Lufeng, which in 1999 and 2011 was listed by the Ministry of Public Security's narcotics control bureau as one of China's key drug production areas.
After the Dec 29 raid, the authorities raided a further five villages in Lufeng that were known to be centers of drug production. Two meth labs were destroyed and all the raw materials were impounded, according to Guangdong police.
From the 1980s onward, heroin was the major illegal drug across China, but during the past decade the production and use of "ice" has become an increasingly pressing problem.
In 1999, the world's largest seizure of crystal meth was made in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong. A gang had manufactured 12.36 tons of the drug at an insecticide factory in the northwest of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region from January to October 1998 before transporting the bulk of it to Guangzhou. The following July, 11.08 tons of crystal meth - equal to the entire amount seized globally in 1998 - were discovered in a warehouse in the city.
By the end of last year, there were more than 2 million registered drug users in China, with 29 percent of them using amphetamine-type narcotics, according to the National Narcotics Control Commission. In 2008, amphetamine users accounted for 9 percent.
"Compared with heroin, which has a more direct and obvious impact on health, addiction to meth appears less severe and the body doesn't show changes as quickly. An increasing number of people, especially among the younger generation, seem to regard it as being akin to smoking or drinking and see it as a way to socialize," said Li Wenjun, an associate professor of drug prohibition studies at the People's Public Security University of China.
However, the social impact of the drug could be far greater than that of heroin, said Chen Shuaifeng, a drug expert and a colleague of Li's at the university. "The number of drug-related cases, such as fatal traffic accidents, has risen sharply in the past few years," he said.
While most of the heroin found in China originates in the Golden Triangle, the world's biggest drug producing region which overlaps the mountainous border regions of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, the production of meth is rampant in many areas of China, most notably the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian and Sichuan, he added.
Li said recent technological upgrades have resulted in a rapid decline in production costs and crystal meth is now a highly profitable business venture.
"I'm not really surprised by this case, though, especially compared with the one in 1999. So far, only a very small part of a nationwide problem has been uncovered," she said.
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