China detains 15 South Koreans for smuggling drugs

China detains 15 South Koreans for smuggling drugs

BEIJING - Chinese authorities have detained 15 South Koreans for alleged drug smuggling as they were about to board a plane to Australia, state-run media said Wednesday.

The suspects were caught on Sunday with about 33 kilograms (72 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine at Baiyun airport in the southern city of Guangzhou while trying to board a flight to Melbourne, Xinhua news agency reported.

Authorities have mounted a high-profile crackdown on drug use in recent months, detaining a number of celebrities including the son of kung fu superstar Jackie Chan.

Police seized three tonnes of crystal methamphetamine -- also known as "ice" -- during raids in January not far from Guangzhou.

Methamphetamine is the second most popular drug in China after heroin, according to a report last year by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which estimated that sales of the two drugs in China and Southeast Asia totalled more than $30 billion in 2012.

Chinese seizures of crystal methamphetamine rose 13 per cent that year to 16.2 tonnes, it estimated.

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