Chinese police cracked more than 2,600 drug cases and arrested more than 2,900 suspects during a two-month multinational drug control operation in the southern border region.
The Second Safe Mekong Joint Operation ran from January 12 to March 12 with the assistance of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.
The number of cases increased by nearly 70 per cent and the number of suspects arrested rose 35 per cent since the first operation in early 2013, according to An Guojun, deputy secretary-general of the China National Narcotics Control Commission.
As many as 3.75 metric tonnes of drugs were seized, including 170kg of opium, 1.48 tonnes of heroin, 2.04 tonnes of methamphetamine pills and 48.9kg of morphine.
Initiated by China in 2013, the Safe Mekong Operation normally lasts for two months and aims to enhance cooperation among the four countries to suppress illegal drug activities.
Myanmar is at the focal point of the bust, being the world’s second largest in terms of opium production. The country has also witnessed widespread HIV. Focus is now placed on a drug use control, with the attempt to amend the Drug Law.
At a consultation workshop in February assisted by United Nations Offices on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and United Nations & AIDS (UNAIDS), Pol Maj Gen Zaw Win said the revised law should draw a clear distinction between the various actors in the market, with protection for people who use drugs with appropriate responses and services.
The four amendments are;
1. The removal of compulsory registration for people who use drugs.
2. A recommendation to transfer programmes for people who use drugs from prison to treatment centres.
3. A reduction of penalties for small offenders.
4. The inclusion of the harm reduction approach in programming.
"People who use drugs have the right to available, accessible, acceptable and sufficient quality health services,” Maung Maung Lwin, a representative from the Myanmar Anti-Narcotic Association (MANA) stated, on behalf of civil society.
In China, the operation was conducted across 16 provinces with a focus on Yunnan province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
Chinese police set up checkpoints in the border area, strengthened inspections at docks and increased patrols along the Chinese section of the Mekong River.
“A number of armed forces, as well as criminal organisations from different countries have controlled the river basin to conduct drug-related crimes,” An said.
He added that more than 100,000 drug-related cases were cracked on the Chinese mainland last year, and the major drug source for those illegal activities was the Golden Triangle.