Trial opens for nation's biggest `ice' case
( 2003-11-27 22:55) (China Daily)
The Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court in South China's Guangdong Province opened a public trial yesterday into the country's largest-ever drug case involving methamphetamine, which is more commonly known as 'ice.'
The case includes 10 suspects, including a Hong Kong permanent resident.
They are charged with having manufactured more than 12.36 tons of pure ice between January and October of 1999.
Zhang Shaoxian is the only woman defendant in the case.
The defendants are charged with illegally producing and trafficking the drug on the Chinese mainland, an official from the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court said yesterday.
The public trial will last for at least two days, the unnamed official said.
Produced by chemical synthesis over a period of 10 months, the ice seized is almost equal in quantity to the total amount of ice seized worldwide in 1998.
The ice, which the gang produced in an agricultural chemical factory in Yinchuan, in northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, was seized by Guangdong police after it had been transported to the province for sale, which shares borders with Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
A total of 11.08 tons of the drug was seized in a warehouse in Guangzhou on November 4, 1999, while another 1.28 tons were seized in Puning, a city in eastern Guangdong, fourteen days later.
It is the biggest ice case to be handled in the Chinese courts since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the official said.
Investigations revealed that the ice was transported to Guangdong in eight trucks after manufacture in Yinchuan.
Zhang Qisheng, the prime suspect of the drug gang, escaped to Thailand using a counterfeit Chinese passport under the name Zhang Zhongheng, and other gang members fled to various parts of the Chinese mainland.
Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Security immediately established a task force to handle the case and sought both international and domestic co-operation to help in tracking down the suspects.
Zhang was arrested by Thailand police in October of 2000. He was sentenced to one year plus six months in jail in Thailand for using a fake passport to enter the country.
With the help of Interpol China, Zhang was extradited to China in June 2002, after completion of his jail term in Thailand.
By January of this year, the other nine suspects were also arrested by Chinese police.
According to Chinese law, the maximum penalty for drug producers and traffickers is death.
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