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Worsening Drug Trafficking Poses New Challenge to China

Drugs trafficking worsened in China last year, with new foreign sources of illegal narcotics, domestic drug-making areas and trafficking routes undermining the country's anti-drug efforts.

Luo Feng, deputy director of the National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC), told an NNCC meeting Thursday that Afghanistan, with an annual opium output exceeding 3,600 tons, has turned into a major potential problem for China.

Luo, also Vice Minister of Public Security, said new types of narcotics were also creeping across the country through the southeastern coast.

The notorious Golden Triangle, an area along the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos where production flourished, remained the biggest drugs source last year, Luo said.

Southwest of China, the triangle produced 70 to 80 tons of heroin annually, 80 percent of which was smuggled to China overland along the Sino-Myanmar border.

Luo said domestic drugs dealers usually assembled at the border areas in southwest China's Yunnan Province, hiding narcotics in vehicles, mail or on people.

"Recently, overseas drugs rings have opened new trafficking routes, smuggling narcotics to China through India and Nepal," Luo said.

Last year, China intensified crackdowns on drug trafficking, uncovering nearly 94,000 drugs-related cases and arresting 63,700 people.

The police also seized 9.53 tons of heroin, 5.83 tons of "ice", or methamphetamine, 409,000 "head-shaking" pills, or ecstasy, and 72.8 tons of raw materials for narcotics manufacturing.

This year, China would further strengthen anti-drug cooperation with neighboring countries, in a bid to block narcotics from China more effectively, Luo said.

Meanwhile, narcotics manufacturing at home became more rampant, which Luo highlighted as a new problem in China's drugs control work.

Last year, police in south China's Guangdong Province seized five tons of "ice", accounting for 86.7 percent of the country's total. Meanwhile, underground "ice" factories expanded from the coastal Guangdong and Fujian provinces to inland areas.

Luo said the government had stepped up regulating work in 13 cities with serious drugs problems and would strengthen crackdowns on drug-making in southeastern coastal areas.

He also pointed out that some chemicals had been stolen in new channels for the illegal manufacture of narcotics.

Raw chemicals including phenyl acetone and piperonyl methyl ketone had been smuggled to the Netherlands and Belgium for making "ice" and "head-shaking" pills, and ephedrine flowed to Russia through the border port in Heilongjiang.

China introduced licensing management of imports and exports of chemicals that could be used to make narcotics last year, which stopped 3,490 tons of such chemicals from flowing abroad, 52.6 percent more than the previous year.

This year, China would accelerate the enactment of an ordinance on the control of chemicals for drug manufacturing, which would provide specific standards for the management and inspection of the production, sale, storage, transportation, import and export of such chemicals, Luo said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2004)

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