Professor caught for helping gang make drugs

Professor caught for helping gang make drugs

A former chemistry professor in China has been arrested by the police on suspicion of selling a drug recipe to a gang which cooked up synthetic narcotics, state-media reported yesterday.

The 50-year-old former academic, who was identified only as Lu, had "a set of recipes for producing methcathinone", a drug similar to methamphetamine, which he provided to dealers, China Business News (CBN) reported.

Lu "worked as a professor of chemistry at a university" in Xian, the capital of the northern province of Shaanxi, before teaming up with a drug manufacturer named Chen in 2013, CBN cited police as saying.

Lu has been arrested along with 16 other people said to be involved with the lab, the official Xinhua news agency said.

His alleged activities echo those of Walter White, a fictional chemistry teacher who sells crystal meth in the hit US TV show Breaking Bad.

Police detained Chen and six other people after finding 128kg of methcathinone at a manufacturing facility in Shaanxi, along with 2,000kg of ingredients for the drug, last May, the report added.

Chinese state media last week quoted the government as saying that the country has 14 million drug users, which is about one per cent of the population, and that their numbers had increased by an annual average of 36 per cent in recent years, AFP reported.

Use of synthetic drugs such as crystal meth and methcathinone, which can induce euphoric highs, are reported to be growing in rural areas.

Chinese authorities deployed helicopters, speedboats and paramilitary police to seize three tonnes of methamphetamine last year in a raid on a village in the southern province of Guangdong.

A Chinese police raid on the house of two methcathinone dealers in 2011 uncovered 80 million yuan (S$17 million) in cash, reports said at the time.

This article was first published on May 20, 2015.
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