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Police arrest 8, seize 200 kg of 'foxy methoxy' drug

By Xu Junqian in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-25 09:18

Shanghai police have cracked China's first major case of manufacturing and online selling of "foxy methoxy", a new type of illicit drug similar to crystal meth, municipal police said on Monday.

Details of the drug seizures were announced two days ahead of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on June 26 every year.

Two hundred kilograms of the hallucinogenic drug have been confiscated and eight suspects have been detained, according to the municipal police.

The nationwide case, which required collaboration with police departments from several provinces and cities, began in April 2018, when a whistleblower in Shanghai tipped off local police that someone had bought the drug online.

By September, an investigation team formed by Shanghai police managed to track down a man surnamed Qi, the owner of the online store, selling the drug from Northeast China's Liaoning province. Some 30 kg of the drugs, sent by Qi through express delivery services to his customers in six cities across the country, have been recovered. Another 60 kg of the drug were found at Qi's place in 19,800 packing tubes.

Within the same month, a manufacturing base responsible for making the drugs was located in North China's Hebei province. Run by a mother and son, the base was raided, with thousands of kilograms of chemicals and a number of tools that were meant to be used for synthesizing the drug seized. Also taken were hundreds of kilograms of half-made and complete products.

While the amount of popularly abused drugs, such as heroin and marijuana, confiscated by police has been in decline in recent years, the confiscation of synthetics - especially new types disguised as safe drugs with mild effects - has been on the rise. More than two-thirds of the illicit drugs seized in 2018 in Shanghai were new synthetics like the "foxy", according to the municipal police.

Foxy, otherwise known as 5-MeO-DiPT, has been prohibited in countries such as Germany, Japan and Singapore since the late 1990s. In China, it has been listed as a controlled substance by the country's National Narcotics Control Commission since 2015.

Addictive and toxic, excessive doses of the drug can result in agitation, hallucination and a variety of mental disorders.

Named colloquially as "rhino's drop" in Chinese, the drug is often advertised and sold online as a sex enhancer or body lubricant free of any side effects. Express deliveries have been widely used by dealers to send the drugs.

A report released by Shanghai Customs on Saturday found that smuggling has been replaced by postal services for drug trafficking. In fact, customs officials said 31 of the 32 drug trafficking cases cracked in 2018 employed postal services. The other case was uncovered during a passenger inspection.

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