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Crackdown Targets Drug Users, Dealers

A nationwide campaign will soon be launched to fight against drug use and trafficking at entertainment venues, the Ministry of Public Security announced last week.

During a conference in Guangzhou, the ministry said the intensive crackdown from August to December will focus on drug deals and drug use at entertainment venues, where drugs have become rampant in recent years.

"New types of illegal drugs have been especially seen in entertainment places," Yang Fengrui, director of the Anti-Drug Bureau of the ministry, said recently.

New drugs, such as ecstasy, Ketamine and "ice" (methamphetamine), have posed great challenges to China, together with traditional drugs like heroin, opium and marijuana.

Statistics from the ministry of show more than 1.05 million drug users were registered by law enforcement bodies by the end of 2003, while 214 counties each have registered more than 1,000 addicts.

More than 2,200 counties and cities, nearly 75 percent of the total number of townships in China, have dealt with drug-related cases.

The incidence of drug use among young people is also on the rise.

According to the ministry, the new drugs, often sold at entertainment venues like karaoke and dance clubs, are often used by young people.

And they are not confined to big cities but have spread to smaller urban areas and remote towns, making the campaign even tougher.

Even before the campaign is launched, local governments have already fired the first salvo.

Since August 19, an intensive battle has been waged in northeast China's Liaoning Province.

In Beijing, entertainment venues where drug deals and use are rampant will be blacklisted.

Additional efforts to block drug production and help drug users are also planned.

In June, a Ketamine production base was cracked in the city of Taizhou in east China's Jiangsu Province.

The case, involving production of more than 110 kilograms of Ketamine, was the first one found in Jiangsu since 2001.

Zhu Huaping, who faces trial, learned how to make Ketamine from a magazine at a public library and bought the raw materials at a market.

Libraries have been asked to restrict access to that information and controls have been placed on the raw materials needed to make Ketamine.

But besides the multitude of drug sources within the country, China now also faces great pressure from imported drugs.

During the last five years, Chinese customs cracked 636 drug-related cases, seizing 12.4 tons of drugs, 271 tons of chemicals, and arresting 832 suspects, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Since the start of the crackdown in August, China has targeted several main distribution channels in Guangdong, Yunnan, Fujian and Sichuan provinces.

From July 1 to August 19, more than 5,400 drug cases were solved and 257 trafficking groups smashed and more than 300 entertainment venues cleaned up.

At the same time, more than 5,400 drug dealers were arrested and more than 5,000 kilograms of drugs confiscated.

Meng Hongwei, vice-minister of public security, said that experience has been drawn to establish a drug control system that will be highly efficient in the long term.

Meng also said better coordination on information sharing and managing should be carried out.

(China Daily August 24, 2004)

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