China still faces a serious problem with drug-related crimes, although it has started to make some headway, according to a national report issued on Wednesday.
Over the past few years, there has been a strong market demand from drug addicts and huge profits via drug trafficking, said the report by the Institute of Law with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Last year, Chinese public security bodies uncovered 146,000 drug offences, up 32.7 per cent year-on-year, and arrested 169,000 suspects, a 15.7 per cent increase, according to China Police Daily.
Meanwhile, armed drug trafficking around borders has become serious, said Ji Xiangde, who led the report for the institute.
From October to December, police investigated 45,600 cases involving drugs and detained 52,000 suspects across the country, as well as confiscating 542 guns and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition, according to the daily.
"We are frequently seizing weapons from drug traffickers, and a few even became violent when they were caught," Ji said. "Some traffickers are also drug users, and they often had hallucinations when they were trafficking."
Chinese public security bodies developed their first cooperative campaign against drug trafficking on the China-Vietnam border last year, turning up more than 3,100 related cases and detaining more than 3,800 suspects, the daily said.
"International drug trafficking has caused great difficulties for police and requires a lot of investigation," Ji said, adding that he approves of launching more campaigns like the one between China and Vietnam to alleviate the cross-border drug problem.
With the increase in drug trafficking, the number of drug addicts has also been rising across the country.
By the end of November, China had 2.76 million registered drug users, but the total number of users could be more than 13 million, according to the report.
About 75 per cent of the registered users were under the age of 35, and more than 50 billion yuan (S$8.6 billion) is spent on drugs every year, said the report.
"Drug-taking damages individuals and society a lot, and the drug user may more easily commit crimes," Ji said, suggesting that the government reward residents who provide important tips to the police.
Thanks to public reports, Beijing police uncovered several drug cases last year, including ones involving celebrities.
On Jan 9, Jaycee Chan, son of Chinese kung fu superstar Jackie Chan, was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 2,000 yuan after he helped others take drugs in August.
On Feb 28, Yin Xiangjie, a popular singer, was given a seven-month sentence and fined 2,000 yuan for illegally possessing drugs.
Another actor, Wang Xuebing, was arrested on March 9 after he was found taking drugs with friends.
Chen Shuaifeng, a drug specialist at the People's Public Security University of China, said the disclosure by stars can educate fans and give warnings to the public.
But Chen confirmed that drug trafficking in Guangdong and Yunnan provinces is still serious, adding that Guangdong should be regarded as a priority in the crackdown on drug manufacturing.