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Drug Smuggling Spreads in Shanghai
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Drug smuggling seems to be on the rise in this city, according to an announcement by the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate Prosecutor's Office, whose jurisdiction includes the city's two airports.

Yang Yujun, the director of the office's prosecution department, made the claim while announcing drug smuggling charges against nine people yesterday.

Yang said the office had investigated about 15 drug-smuggling cases since October last year. And Shanghai Customs had recently uncovered four additional suspects. "In the past, the figure was only one or two such cases per year," Yang said.

International drug rings have been using Shanghai ports to bring drugs into the country, Yang said.

Eight of the suspects charged yesterday were foreigners, hailing from Thailand, Burma, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They said they had been promised US$300 to US$900 to carry drugs into China. They were all caught while trying to enter Shanghai from Pudong International Airport. The other suspect, a Chinese man, was caught while trying to leave the country. He claimed the drugs he was carrying were for his own use.

"They hid the drugs in their luggage, shoes or in their own bodies," Yang said. "The quantities of drugs involved are quite large."

The suspects attempted to carry in more than 10 kilograms of high-purity heroin, ranging from 60 to 80 percent purity. Yang said most of the drugs involved in domestic trafficking cases were only about 20 percent pure.

In the largest-volume case, a Thai woman was caught carrying 2,564.4 grams of heroin in her luggage. By law, people caught smuggling more than 50 grams of heroin can receive 15 years in prison, life imprisonment or death.

Several of the suspects admitted they had previously carried drugs into China without being stopped.

Yang said the authorities were still investigating the cases in the hope of tackling the drug rings behind the smuggling operations and to dig up information for international anti-drug efforts.

Zheng Ning, deputy director of Shanghai Customs, said the spread of drug smuggling was also related to growing domestic demand, according to Xinhua News Agency.

(China Daily February 8, 2007)

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