New types of illegal drugs on rise

2007-12-25 03:07:20 Shanghai Daily

SALES and production of new types of illegal drugs are on the rise in China, a senior official with the Ministry of Public Security said today.

He said police have seized about 11.4 tons of these drugs in the first 11 months of this year.

Police confiscated 5.2 tons of ketamine, commonly known as "K," during the period.

This is 2.1 times the amount seized in the previous year, Liu Yuejin, vice director of the ministry's Bureau of Narcotics Control, told a news conference in Beijing this morning.

The police also seized 6.2 tons of crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as "ice," and about 2.075 million granules of ephedrine, 4.2 times that in 2006, Liu added.

Ketamine, crystal methamphetamine and ecstasy are listed as new types of drugs because the methods of production vary from those of traditional drugs such as opium.

Seizures of heroin were down 20.6 percent to 4.2 tons from January to November and the amount of opium fell 32.9 percent to 1.1 tons, Liu said.

More than 50,000 drug-related suspects were arrested, a year-on-year jump of 17 percent, including 76 listed key drug dealers. About 48,000 suspects have been prosecuted, Liu said.

Yunnan Province was at the forefront in the war on drugs with police in the southwest province seizing 3.1 tons of heroin in the 11 months -- 73.8 percent of all the heroin seized, Liu said.

Bordering Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, Yunnan has faced a major problem with drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle, a notorious drug-producing area along the Mekong River delta, including Myanmar and Laos.

The number of registered drug takers in China grew 35 percent over a five-year period to reach 1.16 million in early 2005.

Police estimate the country has more than 700,000 heroin addicts, 69 percent of whom under 35, Xinhua news agency said this week.

Lawmakers are expected to adopt China's first anti-drug law, aimed at curbing drug-related crimes, reducing the growing number of users and providing more care for young addicts.

The law's final draft was "ready for adoption," the Law Committee of the National People's Congress said on Sunday when it submitted the bill for a third and possibly final deliberation.

The law sets strict rules on the clinical use of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals and medicines that could be used to make illegal narcotics, such as methadone and ephedrine.