China / Society

2-tonne ice case prompts China to tighten drug bust at sea

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-06-16 20:32

GUANGZHOU -- South China's Guangdong Province has declared a war on drugs after a ship carrying two tonnes of crystal meth, or "ice," was seized earlier this year.

In February, police, acting on a tipoff, found 80 woven bags containing the drugs under a ship's deck in Jiazi Township, Guangdong. It was one of the largest drug busts in China.

Subsequently, the local government established a port management office in charge of smuggling and drug control. As of last month, inspectors had examined more than 600 vessels moored in the city, and banned 50 unlicensed vessels from the waters.

Lufeng City Government is also promoting a real-name logistic service system and inspection stations and teams will undertake regular, impromptu checks.

Ship owners, captains and crew in Jianzi have signed a letter of commitment, agreeing that their vessels will be seized if drugs are found onboard, according to the local township government.

In addition to efforts by government bodies, public intel is encouraged. The city launched a campaign called "Thunder" in May, offering up to 30,000-yuan for information that leads to the arrest of each of more than 300 drug dealers. More than 50 had been detained by or surrendered to police as of Wednesday.

In the port city of Lufeng a 40-square-meter drug awareness exhibition opened earlier this week, just ahead of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking which falls on June 26.

Located near Hong Kong, Macao and Southeast Asia, Lufeng is a favorable port for drug smugglers.

In the "ice boat" case, 28 suspects, including the prime suspect Li, have been detained and could face charges of drug manufacturing, trafficking and distribution.

Initial investigations found the ice drugs were produced at a forest farm in a neighboring county, and were destined for Southeast Asia.

The drugs sold at a wholesale price of 20,000 yuan (3,000 U.S. dollars) per kilo and the street price could be 30 to 40 times that amount, said Zhan Zhenbiao, head of Lufeng City Public Security Bureau narcotics team.

The case revealed that sea trafficking is more serious than land transportation, government authorities have realized.

"Ships can carry much larger consignments of drugs," said Lin Chunjia, deputy head of the political and legal affairs commission of the Communist Party of China Lufeng City Committee.

In the major ice case in February, police received more than 400 clues within 24 hours to catch Li's parents, who were allegedly involved in the case and on the run. The whistleblower was granted 300,000 yuan for the information that led to their arrest, Lin said.

Deng Jianwei, drug enforcement head of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department, said cross-border drug control involves multiple countries and regions and international cooperation.

"We will strengthen cooperation with our counterparts in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as Australia by sharing information and undertaking joint campaigns," he said.

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