China / Politics

Beijing pledges heavier penalties for drug crimes

By Zhang Yan ( Updated: 2014-06-19 20:14

Beijing courts will apply heavier penalties for drug traffickers, in a sign law enforcement officers are determined to wipe out drug–related crimes, the Beijing Higher Court announced on Wednesday.

Sun Li, deputy director of the Beijing Higher Court, said that 61 suspects were sentenced to death or life imprisonment by Beijing courts in 2013. The rate of severe punishments, considered sentences of 15 years imprisonment or more, was 16.6 percent, 6 percent more than for other criminal cases.

Most of the convicts sentenced to death were found guilty of drug trafficking or transportation. "If the circumstances are serious, such as a huge number of drugs seized, resulting in others dying or being severely injured, convicts will get the death penalty."

Sun said synthetic drug use is on a sharp rise. Figures provided by Beijing Higher Court show crimes involving traditional drugs, such as heroin, declined by 30 percent year-on-year, while the use of synthetic drugs, such as ice, soared by 60 percent.

Drug traffickers often take advantage of young people, pregnant women or new mothers, or AIDS sufferers to transport drugs.

In 2013, Beijing courts handled 318 such cases involving people under the age of 25, accounting for 20 percent of all drug case convictions. Females, including pregnant women, accounted for 290 convictions, an increase of 26 percent, according to court statistics.

"Drug-related offences pose a serious threat to national political security and social stability, and cause great harm to people's health, so we will resolutely fight them," said Jiang Liangdong, deputy director of the Beijing public security department.

Drug abuse, particularly of synthetic drugs, can aggravate mental problems in users, who may then engage in extreme behavior, including suicide, kidnapping, murder or other violent crimes, Jiang said.

Last year, he said, Beijing police cooperated with other administrative authorities, including cultural, industrial and commercial sectors to set up warning mechanisms to monitor drug use in public places. These included more than 1,000 routine or secret visits to entertainment venues in the city.

They also conducted an investigation of enterprises that manufactured chemicals that could be used to produce drugs, gave administrative punishments to seven companies and closed one illegal company to prevent the flow of such chemicals.

Jiang said Beijing police will enhance their cooperation with the customs, airports, postal and courier services to strengthen checking of drugs being moved through mail and express delivery, while strengthening their efforts to combat drug smuggling.

From January to May, Beijing police investigated 986 cases involving drugs, an increase of 41.1 percent on the same period the previous year, and arrested 1,033 suspects, a 40-percent increase, according to the Beijing public security department.

Police also arrested 2,779 drug users, a climb of 30.2 percent, and confiscated 88.7 kilograms of illegal drugs, up 22 percent, according to official statistics.

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