“Convenient, economical and hard to investigate, the Internet has turned into a new platform for the drugs trade.”
In late October, China’s Ministry of Public Security launched a controversial nationwide campaign against online drug trafficking. A total of 12,125 people were detained and questioned about their participation in drug-related chat on the Internet.
The campaign was sparked by a case in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, when a detained dealer led police to what they termed an “online drug trafficking ring” operating via a video sharing website. Investigation teams acting through informants blocked the website, based in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, digging identities out of the website’s code and detaining 12,000 “suspects” across 31 provinces and municipalities.
According to detective Gu Jian, over 3,000 drug-themed chatrooms had been set up on the website, which had a total of 10 million users. Police claimed that these 10-person chatrooms were specifically used to sell and purchase narcotics.
“Suspects generally deal between 9pm and 4am and set strict access restrictions on their designated rooms,” Gu Jian told State media. “Nobody can gain access without a recommendation from an existing member before openly taking drugs in front of a webcam to prove they are regular users.” Gu’s claims that all the chatroom members were drug users have not been independently verified.
A multi-tiered sting operation carried out with the full cooperation of webmasters allowed police to prosecute 500 individual cases of “drug trafficking,” uncover 144 “online cartels,” shut down 22 drug factories and close down 340 drug-themed chatrooms.
Over 66 percent of the suspects detained were aged under 30, with some 2.6 percent under the age of 18. “Convenient, economical and hard to investigate, the Internet has turned into a new platform for the drugs trade,” said Lan Weihong with the Chinese police’s narcotics division. The police are now demanding new legal provisions for the investigation and prosecution of “online cases of drugs trafficking,” as well as an education campaign on the dangers of drugs in China’s schools.
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Badeling Pass | Beijing
Sep 2011 | Submitted by Brian Snelson
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