Chinese police said they had smashed an international drug-trafficking gang with the help of their US counterparts, capturing 36 kilograms of heroin.
More than 20 suspects were arrested in last Friday's joint raid which also took place in Guangdong and Yunnan provinces, Hong Kong and the United States, according to sources at the Fujian Public Security Bureau.
An unknown sum of money and vehicles were also seized by police in the swoop in the East China province, according to the police.
US-based Chinese-language newspaper China Press reported that New York prosecutors have already filed a lawsuit against 25 suspects in the gang headed by Kin Cheung Wong, including five who are still at large. They have been indicted on six charges including drug-trafficking and money laundering.
The gang, known as the 125 Organization which has members in New York, North Carolina and Florida of the United States, Canada, the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, has been suspected of smuggling heroin worth more than US$100 million by sea from Fujian Province since 2000.
New York prosecutors believed they would then distribute the drug, smuggled into China from its border with Myanmar, to the United States and Canada. The money earned from the crimes would be sent back to China after illegal money laundering.
If proved guilty, the gangsters can receive at least 10 years in prison for drug-trafficking and a minimum of 20 years imprisonment for money laundering. The maximum punishment they may receive is life sentence.
According to China Press, this is the first time that China and the US have co-operated in cracking down on heroin smuggling.
(China Daily May 19, 2003)