Synthetic drug abuse rises across country

Updated: 2015-06-24 07:41

By Zhang Yan(China Daily)

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The number of Chinese drug addicts and users, especially those taking synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine, has been rising sharply, leading to more violent crimes, a senior official from the National Anti-Drug Commission said.

Last year, an estimated 463,000 people started using illegal drugs, and 80 percent of them abused synthetic drugs, including meth, Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the commission and assistant to the minister of public security, said on Tuesday.

Drug addicts are usually young, most being under 35, Liu said.

"The rampant smuggling of synthetic drugs from Southeast Asia and some flaws in social management and the education system have contributed to the sharp increase in synthetic drug abuse by the young," said a senior official at the Ministry of Public Security's Narcotics Control Bureau who declined to give his name.

Annual economic losses caused by the abuse of synthetic drugs have climbed to 500 billion yuan ($82 billion), according to the ministry.

Liu said synthetic drug abuse has risen by 40 percent each year since 2008, and this has led to a nationwide rise in violent crimes.

Police officers in 14 provinces and regions identified more than 100 violent crimes caused by meth abuse between January and September 2014, more than the total number in the previous five years, according to the ministry.

"Compared with taking traditional drugs, such as heroin and opium, using methamphetamine can easily bring on mental problems," Liu said. "The addicts find it difficult to control themselves and are prone to extreme and violent acts, including murder, kidnapping and injuring others."

About 1.45 million people accused of abusing synthetic drugs have been registered, far more than the number who use more traditional drugs, including heroin, according to figures provided by the ministry.

"Under the pressures of rampant drug smuggling and strong domestic market demand, China is facing the grim task of curbing synthetic drugs, which young addicts increasingly use," Liu said.

Song Zengliang, a senior official at the ministry's Narcotics Control Bureau, said in an earlier interview that much of the methamphetamine is smuggled into China through border areas such as Yunnan province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

China had been meeting annually with the US, Russia, Myanmar and Vietnam to exchange information and discuss combating cross-border drug-related crimes, he said.

Liu said China will further enhance law enforcement cooperation with other countries to collect intelligence and conduct joint operations, while focusing on smashing drug-trafficking rings and arresting major drug lords.

 Synthetic drug abuse rises across country

A police officer displays a drug-taking device during an anti-drug event at Jiangsu University in Zhenjiang, East China's Jiangsu province, on Sunday. Yang Yu / for China Daily

(China Daily 06/24/2015 page4)