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Fight Against Illegal Drugs Ratchets Up

China will launch a nationwide campaign to fight illegal drug trafficking in August.


The five-month crackdown will target sales and production of drugs as well as money laundering, said Yang Fengrui, director of the Ministry of Public Security's narcotics department.


The drive aims to stop up sources of drugs and curb an increase in the number of drug users.


"While destroying drug trafficking networks, narcotics departments will work to cut off the channels of drug dealing and shut down illegal labs," Yang said at a press conference on Wednesday.


Entertainment venues where drugs are sold or used will be given penalties and drug dealers will be severely punished, he said.


Additional efforts will be made to block the major drug trafficking channels, Yang said.


These include land routes from Myanmar to Kunming in Yunnan Province and waterways from Xiamen in Fujian Province to Jinmen. Sea routes from Guangzhou, Yantian and Shekou ports in Guangdong Province and Dalian Port in Liaoning Province will also be targeted.


Several cities have been identified as major drug distribution and transfer stations, including Kunming and Dali in southwest China's Yunnan Province and Guangzhou and Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong Province.


China is facing great pressure from imported drugs and from the multitude of sources within the country, Yang said.


"Drugs from overseas continue to flow into the country by various illegal means while the domestic production and sale of drugs are also rampant," he said.


The number of drug users in the country has been steadily rising for years while the types of drugs used have multiplied, especially at some entertainment places in large and medium cities, said Yang.


The Ministry of Public Security reports that law enforcement departments had registered more than a million drug users by the end of 2003 and over 2,200 counties and municipalities had handled drug-related cases. Robberies and thefts from drug problems are on the rise, constituting a threat to public safety.


As part of the crackdown, narcotics investigators will tighten partnerships with banks and investigate the financial aspects of drug-related crimes to fight money laundering, Yang said.


The country will also strengthen international cooperation to combat cross-border drug trafficking, Yang stressed.


Substantial progress has been made in Yunnan Province, which is working with Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam to curb trafficking, said provincial Vice Governor Li Yunbai. Since 1998, 13 overseas illegal drug-processing plants have been eradicated and 55 major overseas drug traffickers have been arrested.


Yunnan is located near the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos and close to the Golden Triangle, a major international supply source. It is thus of critical importance for Yunnan police to intensify international cooperation projects, said Li.


(China Daily July 30, 2004)


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