China's drug users seek new highs with novel chemicals

New types of drugs such as ice, ketamine and ecstasy have surpassed traditional drugs in popularity among users in Guangdong province, a senior drug enforcement officer said on Monday.

"Last year was the first time the number of people using modern narcotics in the province was higher than those using traditional varieties," Wang Junke, director of drug enforcement for Guangdong Public Security Department, told a news conference in Guangzhou on Monday.

Guangdong has more than 310,000 registered drug addicts, one-sixth of the nationwide total, Wang said, adding that the proportion taking new types of drugs accounted for more than 60 per cent.

To deal with the situation, the police will strengthen the crackdown on drug-related crime, Wang said.

"Priorities will be given to cracking down on gangs and drug networks," he said, adding that drug enforcement authorities have destroyed some criminal rings in past months.

In March, police in Shenzhen cracked a Hong Kong drug trafficking ring and detained five suspects. More than 16 kilograms of drugs were seized.

Police also established a task force in February to investigate a suspected trafficking channel linking Vietnam, Hong Kong and Shenzhen. One month later, an operation was launched in Shenzhen's Luohu district, leading to several detentions and the confiscation of a large amount of drugs.

A distribution channel that used to be active in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Vietnam was destroyed, police said.

In April, police in Jiangmen uncovered a drug production base in the city of Kaiping, detaining four suspects and seizing 1.2 kg of ice, in addition to plenty of semi-finished products, raw materials for producing ice, and production equipment.

In December, police in Zhongshan cracked the biggest drug case in the city's history when they busted a drug distribution channel in which traffickers smuggled drugs from Southeast Asia to the Pearl River Delta through Yunnan province.

Twelve suspects were detained and more than 9 kg of high-grade heroin were seized in a raid on Dec 29.

According to the provincial public security authority, police across the province solved nearly 19,000 cases involving drugs in 2011. More than 20,000 suspects were detained and police seized 8,930 kg of various drugs.

In the first five months of this year, Guangdong police investigated 7,617 cases, detained 8,110 suspects, seized 1,533 kg of drugs and destroyed 56 production bases.