Strict pandemic control measures and a successful crackdown have reduced drug crimes in China by stemming the flow of drugs being smuggled into the country, a drug situation report released last month said.
The Drug Situation in China (2020), issued by the National Narcotics Control Commission, said the positive trend in drug control had been consolidated.
It said the vast majority of drugs in China come from the Golden Triangle region, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.
Chinese police seized 26.3 metric tons of major drugs last year－including heroin, methamphetamine and ketamine－down 20.3 percent from the 33 tons seized in 2019.Almost 85 percent of the major drugs seized last year were from overseas.
Both traditional and synthetic drugs entered China from the Golden Triangle, the report said.
Chinese police seized 6.3 tons of heroin and opium from the region last year, accounting for 96.2 percent of the amount seized in the country, and 18.8 tons of methamphetamine and ketamine, 83.1 percent of total seizures of those drugs.
Due to the strict pandemic and border control measures, a large quantity of drugs from the region had been stockpiled near the border, and drug traffickers were looking for opportunities to transport drugs to China and Southeast Asian countries, it said.
To prevent drugs from the region flowing into China, the commission and the Ministry of Public Security launched an operation named Jingbian in 2018 to target drug crimes in border areas, with the southwestern province of Yunnan the main focus.
The operation expanded to Guangdong province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region last year, and police focused on the whole criminal chain, including the control of illicit manufacturing and the rectification of the logistics industry to contain drug smuggling, the commission said.
The flow of heroin from the Golden Crescent region－where Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran meet－cocaine from South America and marijuana from North America increased last year, the report said.
Authorities in China seized 186 kilograms of heroin originating from the Golden Crescent last year, 1.4 times more than in 2019; 582 kg of cocaine from South America, 2.5 times more than in the previous year; and 16.9 kg of marijuana from North America, 1.6 times more than a year earlier.
The drugs were mainly hidden in ship-borne cargo or international mail packages and entered China through southeast or east coast cities.
China saw declines in the number of drug users, large-scale drug manufacturing activities and the misuse of precursor materials last year.
The number of drug users has decreased for three consecutive years. China had 1.8 million drug users by the end of last year, down 16.1 percent year-on-year. Police caught 427,000 drug users last year, down 30.8 percent year-on-year, with 155,000 of them newly detected, the report said.
Due to the anti-drug crackdown and intensified controls on precursor materials, the output of domestic drug manufacturing declined last year, along with the market share of domestically manufactured drugs.
Police in 27 provincial-level regions uncovered drugmaking activities last year. They were mainly small-scale, used simple technology and had fragmented distribution. Police solved 294 drug-manufacturing cases nationwide last year, destroying 167 manufacturing places, down 3.5 percent year-on-year, and seizing 1.1 tons of methamphetamine and ketamine, down 54.8 percent year-on-year.
But drug manufacturing could still rebound, the report warned. With the normalization of pandemic prevention and control measures, domestic drugmaking activities rebounded in the second half of last year, with the number of cases solved increasing 26.2 percent year-on-year, and the number of manufacturing places destroyed up by 33.6 percent year-on-year.
Intensified control of precursor chemicals, including tightened border inspections, reduced the amount of regulated chemicals on the control list that flowed into illegal channels.
Police solved 307 cases of producing, smuggling, trading or transporting precursor chemicals last year, down 7.5 percent year-on-year, and seized 2,335 tons of chemicals.
However, drug manufacturers resorted to purchasing precursor chemicals that are not on the control list in a dispersed manner before synthesizing them into the required raw materials, making supervision, investigation and blocking of such activities more difficult, the report said.
Drug trafficking activities using new internet technologies and logistics delivery channels increased significantly. Criminals used public online platforms to release drug-related information, process payments via digital currencies and arrange transport, making investigations more difficult.
The commission said it would focus on the prevention and control of risks associated with new drugs this year by improving drug control in key sectors, setting up demonstration programs and stepping up governance of drug problems in rural areas.
It said it would also strengthen preventive education, monitoring, international cooperation and the control of precursor chemicals to resolutely tackle drug problems.