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Joint Action Uncovers Large Int'l Drug Case
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Chinese and Philippine police have uncovered a large international drug producing and trafficking case, seizing one ton of ephedrine and 350 kilograms of crystallized methamphetamine (commonly known as "ice").

Fifteen suspects have been captured in China and five caught in Philippines, Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the anti-narcotics bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, said at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

Police have also seized nearly 10,000 cases of chemicals and many equipments in a drug plant covering 3,000 square meters in Philippines, Liu said.

He said that police in southeast China's coastal province of Fujian began to investigate a drug smuggling case involving Philippines in July. In September, police of the two countries set up a joint detective team, to track down a major drug smuggler Shao Chuntian, who was wanted by police in China and several Southeastern Asian countries.

In November, police found that Shao had smuggled one tone of ephedrine to China and set up a plant in Philippines to produce "ice".

On Dec. 19, Philippine police captured three Chinese suspects at the Manila airport and two Philippine suspects in the plant. At the same time, Chinese police seized Shao Chuntian and another 14 Chinese suspects in Quanzhou City of Fujian Province.

At the press conference, Liu also introduced that Chinese police have stepped up efforts to crack down on drug-related crimes with more than 36,400 cases brought to light and 45,100 suspects caught in the first 11 months of this year.

Police seized 4.79 tons of heroin, 1.52 tons of opium, 4.9 tons of crystallized methamphetamine (commonly known as "ice"), 329,000 tablets of ecstasy, 1.5 tons of ketamine and 267.5 tons of chemicals used to produce drugs from January to November.

"We have been successful in this year's fight against drug-related crimes," said Liu.

"China invested 110 million yuan (US$13.75 million) in 2006 to improve the anti-drug system in police, border, railway, aviation, customs and postal departments across China," Liu said.

During the anti-drug campaign, Chinese police focused on major international drug dealers and compiled a blacklist of 85 drug kingpins.

"Cooperation from authorities in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, the Philippines and other countries helped us catch 50 major drug smugglers on the blacklist over the past two years," said Liu.

In 2006, Chinese police uncovered five international drug trafficking cases, seizing 550 kilograms of "ice", 1.5 tons of semi-manufactured "ice" products and 1 million tablets of ecstasy, and closed down three "ice" producing plants, according to Liu.

He said that trafficking of heroin, the traditional drug on China's market, had been largely brought under control, while "ice" and some new drugs began to fill the gap.

"We'll closely follow the new trend and change our focus," Liu said.

The "Golden Triangle" in the northern region of Myanmar is still the main source of drugs and poses the biggest menace to China. In addition, there is a growing threat of drug trafficking from the Golden Crescent region of central Asia, especially Afghanistan, according to Liu.

To fight against drug trafficking from the Golden Crescent region, China has beefed up border and airport checks in Xinjiang, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.

Thirty-one drug smuggling cases from the Golden Crescent region were uncovered in the first 11 months of 2006, with 84 suspects and 84.56 kilograms of heroin seized, Liu said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 26, 2006)

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