China / Society

Guns a growing factor in narcotics enforcement

By Zhang Yi and Li Yingqing (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-24 07:48

Guns a growing factor in narcotics enforcement

Guangdong police show methamphetamine, guns and ammunition that they seized during a crackdown on drug smuggling, in May. CHEN FAN/CHINA DAILY

Authorities worry about the increasing danger to society posed by armed criminals

Nearly 500 guns were seized in major drug cases in China last year, a significant growth of firearms associated with drug manufacturing and trafficking, the drug control authority said on Thursday.

Police departments at or above city level cracked 257 drug cases last year, an increase of 52 percent from the previous year, according to the latest data from the China National Narcotics Control Commission.

In those cases, 476 guns-up 40 percent year-on-year-and more than 30,000 rounds of ammunition were seized.

The use of guns in the drug trade has gained momentum rapidly in the past year, and most suspects in major drug cases possess firearms, according to the commission.

The convergence of firearms with drug manufacturing and trafficking poses great danger to society, and the commission urged drug control agencies at all levels to put gun-related drug cases in their crosshairs.

Inspections for firearms and drugs will be strengthened at major checkpoints, customs gateways and toll gates in each province, the commission said in a written statement.

In addition, the commission said it will focus on drug dealing and the firearms trade on the internet and set up an information exchange mechanism with internet supervisory authorities.

Private possession of firearms in China is strictly prohibited with very few exceptions. Those who illegally possess firearms can face up to seven years in prison.

Firearms for civilian use are permitted in only a few organizations and workplaces, including hunting groups and those involved in the breeding and research of wildlife.

Hunters in some areas and herdsmen in rural regions may be allowed to possess hunting rifles.

In the latest large-scale drug case, in Shaoyang, Hunan province in June, 16 suspects were arrested, and two firearms, 40 rounds of ammunition and a host of gun parts were seized. More than 70 kilograms of methamphetamine were seized.

In recent years, a number of police officers have been killed in firefights with drug suspects in Yunnan province.

Yang Jungang, head of an investigative squad of the Armed Police Force in Pu'er, Yunnan province, was shot and killed by a suspect in March when he was about to examine three suspected accomplices.

"Police officers need to be prepared to face violence at any moment while performing their duty and must be ready to fight with drug suspects who often break into checkpoints by force," said Liu Xiaoqing, deputy head of the Yunnan Public Security Bureau.

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