Drug czar warns of tough fight ahead

By Xiao Feng and Cai Xiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-25 07:34

A senior police officer warned Sunday that China faces an uphill battle in its fight against illegal narcotics, particularly given the increasing availability of new types of drugs.

Yang Fengrui, director of the Ministry of Public Security's narcotics control bureau, said in an online interview that much remained to be done to continue the authorities' successful two-year battle against drug use.

New types of drugs, like ice, ecstasy and ketamine, have been spreading at a tremendous speed across the nation and are posing a great threat to social stability, he said.

People using these new types of drugs account for a growing portion of drug arrests.

"Still more new-type drug users may not have been discovered yet," he said.

Yang said it was a mistake for people to think that ice and ecstasy are not drugs, adding that they are actually addictive and harmful to the nervous system.

Long-time consumption of the drugs could lead to mental disorders and loss of self-control, he said.

Yang warned that young people, especially students, should be careful about accepting drinks and cigarettes from others in public.

According to incomplete statistics from the bureau, the police dealt with 1,959 drug-related cases at public entertainment places nationwide last year.

Tempted by the large profits, many managers of such establishments allow or directly provide drugs to customers, he said.

Yang said a large-scale drug education campaign is urgent.

He said the special campaign against narcotics that kicked off in 2005 had yielded substantial results, with the annual growth rate of new addicts dropping from 30 percent in 2000 to 5.8 percent last year.

Last year, police cracked 46,300 drug-related cases, seizing 56,200 suspects. They also seized 5.79 tons of heroin, 1.69 tons of opium, 5.95 tons of ice, 454,100 ecstasy pills and 1.79 tons of ketamine.

The government spent 110 million yuan ($14.3 million) last year to set up a drug prevention and control system that involves all relevant departments.

Statistics from the bureau show that the price of heroin in most parts of the country had increased by 80 to 100 percent last year because of the crackdown. It is now much more difficult for drug users to buy heroin.

Last year, 660,000 heroin users were caught, 6 percent less than the year before.

The percentage of new HIV cases caused by shared needles dropped to 49 percent last year from 68.7 percent in 2001.

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