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Thousands Arrested in Drug Crackdown
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Chinese police uncovered 45,000 drug cases, arrested 58,000 suspects and seized 6.9 tons of heroin last year, but the country's drug problem still remains serious.

Chen Cunyi, deputy secretary-general of the National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC), said yesterday the war on drugs is facing an increasing number of dealers and sources as well as a rising number of addicts.

While the Golden Triangle, particularly the northern part of Myanmar, remains the main source of heroin, the Golden Crescent area in Central Asian, particularly Afghanistan, is now supplying Chinese dealers with increasing amounts of methamphetamine -- referred to as "ice" -- and heroin, Chen told a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office.

There were only two or three cases involving heroin from the Golden Crescent several years ago, but last year there were nine, he said.

Chen said in Afghanistan about 104,000 hectares of land was sown with poppies last year, with an opium yield of 4,100 tons or 87 percent of the world total.

Police last year cracked cases involving Afghan heroin in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, south China's Guangdong Province and even in Beijing, said Chen.

In addition, ketamine from India and Southeast Asia as well as cocaine from South America were seized in China. About 55 percent of the 2.6 tons of ketamine seized in China last year originated in India. In November 2005 and March 2006 more than 440 kilograms of cocaine from South America was seized, said Chen.

"New types of drugs are found to have been trafficked from European countries," he added.

In one case Chinese police seized 463 kilograms of ecstasy from the Netherlands.

"Suspects from home and abroad have colluded with each other and with drug lords running operations from other countries," said Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). "There is a distinct character of cross-border drug trafficking."

Liu noted that foreign drug lords were behind every one of the eight major drug cases handled by MPS last year. He said these people provided funds as well as organizing smuggling and sales rings in China.

Besides, weapons have become more prominent in drug cases, added Chen.

In April 2005 China's top leadership declared a "people's war on drugs" and asked the public to help in the fight.

Chen said enthusiasm for the campaign has been extremely good with some 250,000 tip-offs on drug related activities pouring in.

China recorded 785,000 drug addicts at the end of 2005, of whom approximately 700,000 or 89 percent were addicted to heroin.

(China Daily June 23, 2006)

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