Heroin kingpins on trial
A trial involving one of the largest drug busts in the nation -- involving more than 780 kilograms of heroin -- began in Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court Wednesday.
A dozen suspects, including three Hong Kong permanent residents, are facing charges in court, on allegations they illegally trafficked heroin with an estimated street value of more than 16 million yuan (US$1.93 million) plus more than 300,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$38,070) into the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.
Most of the heroin was reportedly produced in Southwest China's Yunnan and Guizhou provinces and Central China's Hunan Province, authorities say.
The court did not ruled Wednesday, but court sources say the principal defendants could face the death sentence if they are found guilty, the maximum sentence allowed by law.
An official from Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court said his court seriously punishes drug producers and traffickers in an effort to bring drug related crimes under control.
The trial is expected to last for several days, with a variety of expert witnesses to be presented.
Over the past few years, drug trafficking and drug related crimes have been rampant in some parts of the prosperous Guangdong Province, which borders Hong Kong and Macao.
The three regions were once known as another "Golden Triangle" for Asian drug smuggling and trafficking.
Guangdong has stepped up its fight against drugs, the official told China Daily.
"Guangdong Province will always take firm measures to crack down on drug-related crimes and will never become a haven for drug producers and traffickers," the official said.
The gang on trial allegedly started trafficking heroin in Guangdong in October of 2002, hiding the drug in fruit, sugar and other products in container trucks travelling in Guangdong Province between October of 2002 and April of 2003, the official said.
The case which has raised great concern from both central and provincial governments was cracked down and the suspects were detained in April of 2003.
Police seized the large amount of heroin in a drug warehouse in Guangzhou's Huadu District after months of investigation.
The case is the largest heroin related drug case in Guangdong in recent years.
And in April, Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court has also sentenced three principal suspects accused of trafficking narcotics to death in this provincial capital.