China will enhance intelligence exchanges and cooperation with other countries to fight drug smuggling amid an increasing number of cases, an official from the Ministry of Public Security said.
Last year, national anti-narcotics officers uncovered 1,491 transnational drug smuggling cases, up 14.5 per cent from the previous year, according to the ministry.
Of those, 138 cases involved more than 10 kg of drugs.
The cases involved countries from Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe as well as the United States, with the suspects nabbed mainly in Yunnan and Guangdong provinces, Liu Yuejin, director of the ministry's narcotics control bureau, told China Daily.
"The strong demand for and high consumption of drugs in the global market and the intensified anti-drug efforts between China and other countries contributed to uncovering such high incidences of crimes," Liu said.
"But because of hurdles presented by different legal concepts and systems, or law enforcement procedures between China and other countries, we still face a difficult situation to control transnational drug smuggling," Liu said.
Transnational drug trafficking tends to be criminally organised, intelligent and violent, said Song Zengliang, a senior police officer from the bureau.
Song said drug traffickers collude with overseas partners to form a sophisticated structure - such as finding drug sources, hiring traffickers and modifying vehicles and other modes of transport and sale.
In May 2013, police from Guangdong and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region cooperated with the Tajikistan anti-drug department to break up a drug trafficking ring, according to the ministry.
Police captured two armed suspects and seized 3.53 kg of heroin smuggled from the Golden Crescent - which encompasses the mountain valleys of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan - and confiscated US$15,000 (S$18,797) of illegal funds.
In March 2013, police from China and Laos uncovered a major drug smuggling case along the Mekong River, the ministry said.
They seized a drug-shipment boat, captured five suspects and confiscated 597.5 kg of methamphetamine tablets. The police also seized 139,000 yuan (S$27,826) of illegal funds, the ministry said.
Last year, China exchanged 700 pieces of intelligence involving drug-related crimes with other countries and conducted joint operations to bust major transnational drug smuggling rings.
They also smashed criminal networks and extradited a number of drug lords to China to stand trial, including Chen Guoming, he said.
Chen was suspected of running a drug trafficking ring in Guangdong and was brought back after spending six years on the run in New Zealand and Fiji.
China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have also set up eight liaison offices at border areas to facilitate investigations. They have launched more than 10 joint operations a year to combat drugs in the Mekong River area.
Between April and June last year, police from the four countries cracked 1,784 drug-related crimes in the area, arrested 2,534 suspects and seized 9,781 kg of drugs and 260 metric tons of chemicals used to produce drugs, the ministry said.
China has signed agreements with 20 countries and regions to fight drugs and boosted law enforcement cooperation with 30 countries or regions on intelligence exchange and cooperation, Liu said.
It has also arranged for annual meetings with other countries including the US, Russia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam to combat the scourge, he said.
Hong Daode, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said that drug traffickers have been more violent and sophisticated in their activities in recent years.
"The key to fighting cross-border drug trafficking is to upgrade technical expertise, such as setting up satellites in the border areas to enhance capabilities in collecting evidence," he said.
Hong said it is also necessary to establish an international data-sharing platform to blacklist people suspected of drug-related crimes so they can be captured when passing through borders.