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Xinjiang Police Fight Boom in Drug Cases
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Local police in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region announced yesterday that 27 drug trafficking suspects from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Africa had been captured so far this year.

Police in Xinjiang said they'd arrested the suspects in connection with 13 major cases involving multi-national drug trafficking. Police have seized 53.1 kilograms of heroin, almost triple the amount for last year, stated a press release provided by the region's Public Security Department over the weekend.

Police attributed the "spike" in drug-smuggling cases to a significant increase in production in the "Golden Crescent" area, which is currently the world's leading source of drugs. The area straddles the common borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

In 1999 the area produced 4,600 tons of opium or about 75 percent of the world's total output that year, making Afghanistan the world's top opium producer. This year, by comparison, Afghanistan is expected to produce 6,100 tons of opium or 92 percent of the total global output.

To prevent drugs from the "Golden Crescent" arriving in China, local public security departments have reinforced their staff and toughened inspection procedures along the frontier as well as at customs bureaus, storage depots and major points along air routes and roads.

On October 22, customs officers found 20.7 kilograms of heroin in powder form hidden in 10 boxes marked "date fruits" that two Pakistan businessmen were carrying. That discovery represented the largest seizure of illegal drugs in Xinjiang. To date nine suspects have been arrested in connection with the case including six Africans and three Pakistanis.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily November 13, 2006)

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