More foreigners involved in drug trafficking cases

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A growing number of foreigners have been involved in drug trafficking in the country, latest figures from Chinese courts and customs showed.

Local courts in the Chinese capital tried 36 cases of drug trafficking that involved foreigners last year, 12 times the number in 2006, the Beijing Higher People's Court said on Thursday, two days before the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The drugs trafficked by the foreign defendants were mostly heroin and methamphetamine of high purity, with the drugs trafficked by each foreign suspect weighing an average of more than 1 kg, the court said.

The total amount of drugs presented in the trials of foreigner-related drug trafficking cases also jumped from 9 kg in 2006 to 54 kg in 2008.

"The proportion of female foreigners among all the foreign defendants in drug trafficking cases also rose from 9 percent to 30 percent over the past few years," the court said.

"The problem of foreigners smuggling drugs is getting worse," it said.

In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, four out of 10 drug trafficking cases sentenced by the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court on Thursday alone involved foreigners.

The Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court said the accused foreigners carried drugs totaling 6.5 kg.

The Haikou Customs in the southern province of Hainan said on Thursday that more women from Southeast Asian and African countries have also been caught in drug trafficking in the province.

China has been taking a tough stance against international drug traffickers. It executed a British citizen and a Japanese national late last year and this April for the crime, despite international calls for leniency.

The two foreigners were caught trafficking drugs in 2007 and 2006, respectively, but their executions were not carried out until recently.

Three South Koreans are also facing charges of selling 4.5 kg of methamphetamine last July in China. One of them was charged with holding an additional 5.7 kg of drugs last June, Yonhap News Agency reported.

"Drug rings based outside of China normally entice poorly educated people from underdeveloped countries, mainly African and Central Asian countries, to carry drugs (to Beijing)," the Beijing Higher People's Court said.

Among the suspects, Africans have reportedly become increasingly involved in the crime in Guangzhou. Thirty-seven people from the region were arrested for drug trafficking in the first five months of this year, the Guangdong Customs said.

A Guangdong Customs official told the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily that the number of foreigners arrested for drug-related crimes is 1.5 times that of the same period last year.

Similarly, an anti-drug official from the public security bureau of Jilin province who only gave his surname as Wang said foreign drug traffickers are becoming more active in the area.

"Police in the province's extensive border are facing a grim situation in their fight against drug trafficking rings, which are comprised of Chinese and Northeast Asian nationalities," he said.

With slightly more than 10,000 registered local drug users, Jilin has become a transit point for international drug rings, Wang said.

"Fighting them has always been one of our key tasks. But it's not easy."

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