Ketamine busts have been on the rise in Taiwan, accompanying a fast expansion of the population of drug users, a government report has revealed.
Law enforcement officers seized a total of 2,393 kilograms of ketamine, a Class 3 drug in Taiwan, in 2013, compared to only 799.5 kilograms in 2008, according to statistics disclosed by the Ministry of Audit's (MOA) recently released report on government budgets.
The report indicated that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has stepped up efforts clamping down on Class 3 drugs in a bid to prevent a rise in the number of drug users.
But the efforts need further reinforcement as the drug user population has clearly been growing, the report said.
The severity of drug abuse has raised concerns after Taiwanese actor Ko Kai was caught in Beijing using marijuana, which is a Class 2 drug in Taiwan.
According to figures presented in the report, a total of 1,890 kilograms of drugs of all kinds were seized in Taiwan in 2008, 800.7 kilograms of which were Class 3 drugs. Of the Class 3 drugs seized, 99.9 per cent was ketamine.
In 2010, drug busts hit a record of 3,478 kilograms, with ketamine accounting for 2,594 kilograms.
The next two years saw slight decreases in the volume of drugs seized, but crackdowns in 2013 rounded up 3,656 kilograms of drugs, with ketamine accounting for 2393 kilograms.
The report also shows that the numbers of people found guilty of Class 3 drugs-related criminal cases rose from 398 in 2008 to 2,629 in 2013.
The numbers of people given administrative punishments for using Class 3 drugs or possessing less than 20 grams of Class 3 drugs rose from 9,389 in 2010 to 30,239 in 2013, about 10 per cent of them were under 18 years old.
The figures reveal a worrying trend toward the use of Class 3 drugs growing fast among young people, the MOA concluded, adding that it has asked the MOJ to step up efforts tackling the drug problem.
The MOJ said it has been working with various government bodies to promote awareness of the harm of using drugs. It said it is also continuing its efforts to clear school campuses of drugs.