A rise in the smuggling of synthetic drugs from Southeast Asia is fueling an increase in violent crime in China this year, the state-run China Daily reported Wednesday.
In the first nine months of the year, police recorded more than 100 incidents of violent crime blamed on methamphetamine, more than the total number seen in the previous five years, Liu Yuejin, head of the public security ministry’s Narcotics Control Bureau, said.
“China is facing a grim task in curbing synthetic drugs, including ‘ice’, which more and more of China’s drug addicts tend to use,” the newspaper quoted Liu as saying.He was referring to the street name for methamphetamine.
“Compared with traditional drugs, such as heroine and opium, methamphetamine can easily lead to mental problems,” he said. “Addicts will be prone to extreme and violent behaviour, including murder and kidnapping.”
Methamphetamine is being smuggled into Yunnan province and Guangxi autonomous region, both of which border Southeast Asia, the newspaper said.
Last year, Yunnan police confiscated more than nine metric tons of methamphetamine that had been smuggled in from Myanmar, and drugs have also been coming in from Vietnam, it said.
Liu said China was suspected of having 14 million drug users, five times more than official numbers, and about half of them use methamphetamine.
Over the past 50 days, police have detained almost 24,000 people suspected of involvement in drugs and seized 12.1 tonnes of drugs, the ministry said in a statement on its website Wednesday.
Drug-related crimes carry harsh penalties on the mainland, including death or life imprisonment in serious cases.
The government has in recent months stepped up its fight against the problem, arresting a string of celebrities, including the son of Hong Kong kungfu movie star Jackie Chan.
The use of drugs in China, particularly synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, ketamine and ecstasy, has grown along with the rise of a new urban class with greater disposable income, Reuters reported.
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