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Cross-border heroin ring smashed
By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-16 06:10

A two-year operation involving Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Thai police forces has smashed a cross-border drug ring, resulting in the arrest of 11 people and the seizing of 57.4 kilograms of heroin.

It is the first drug-trafficking case involving co-operation by mainland and Taiwan police, General Administration of Customs announced yesterday in Beijing.

Initial investigations indicate that the alleged ringleader Zhong Wan-yi, a Taiwanese, who had long been hiding near the Thai border in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, had engaged in drug trafficking to Taiwan.

The location is near the "Golden Triangle," an area notorious for drug trafficking that covers parts of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, but no part of China.

The sequence of events emerged in a statement released yesterday by the administration.

April 2004: Yunnan border police were informed that a drug trafficking group with Zhong as its head were seeking refuge in Kunming, posing as Taiwan businessmen.

The investigation found that the group had heroin supplies from the triangle area and then smuggled them from Bangkok to Taiwan aboard container ships.

This information was later passed to the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Taiwan and narcotics control departments in Thailand, and a joint task force was set up.

January 5, 2006: Three investigators from Taiwan were dispatched to Macao and South China's Guangdong Province to discuss the case with mainland counterparts.

January 26: Taiwan authorities solved a related trafficking case with help from a tip-off from the mainland, seizing a handgun and dozens of bullets.

February 3: Two other drug- smuggling cases were cracked in Taiwan's Taichong and Keelong harbours. A total of 57.4 kilograms of heroin worth more than 200 million yuan (US$25 million) were found in containers loaded with rosewood furniture from Thailand.

Meanwhile, Yunnan border police arrested Zhong and his girlfriend Chen Pei in an estate in Kunming. His major distributor in Taiwan, Chen Dengyue, was caught in Taichong on the same day.

Taiwan press reported at the weekend that seven suspects had been caught on the mainland and that three were taken into custody on the island.

Ministry of Public Security would not confirm the figure yesterday, saying only that a total of 11 suspects had been arrested for drug trafficking, but at least 20 others were still at large.

Specific names were not available, and it is unknown where they would be prosecuted.

Liu Xiaohui, deputy chief of the ministry's anti-smuggling bureau, said the cracking of the case marked a good beginning of co-operations between police forces across the Straits.

"We're going to intensify such co-operation and leave no room for those who intend to make use of the current political situation across the Straits."

Latest information from the ministry shows that a joint task force by police from the mainland, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Taiwan have been working on another trafficking case. At least 14 kilograms of heroin has been seized in that operation.

(China Daily 02/16/2006 page2)

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