GROW­ING

New Straits Times - - World -

such as fen­tanyl, which have been blamed for pub­lic health crises in the United States, Canada and Aus­tralia.

The drugs are avail­able for pur­chase on­line from man­u­fac­tur­ers in China, who con­stantly tweak their for­mu­las to keep the them one step ahead of laws that ban the prod­ucts based on their chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion.

Beijing has come un­der pres­sure from abroad to curb the prob­lem.

On­line sales of the drugs in China saw a sharp in­crease, said an an­nual re­port from Liu’s com­mis­sion re­leased yes­ter­day, with con­tra­band smug­gled in postal parcels and other means.

Two raids on on­line drug sell­ers last year ended in the ar­rests of 21,000 peo­ple, and the seizure of 10.8 tonnes of drugs and 52 tonnes of pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals, which can be used to man­u­fac­ture syn­thetic drugs.

“Due to grow­ing overseas de­mand, more pre­cur­sors may be smug­gled out of China.”

The use of syn­thetic drugs at home had also ac­cel­er­ated, it said, not­ing that drug us­age in the coun­try had un­der­gone a “fun­da­men­tal change” as users move away from opi­ates like heroin to­wards newly emerg­ing drugs.

Last year, the num­ber of known drug users in China rose 6.8 per cent to 2.505 mil­lion. Of these, more than 60 per cent con­sumed syn­thetic drugs (pri­mar­ily metham­phetamine and ke­tamine), 38 per cent used opi­ates such as heroin, and a lit­tle more than one per cent co­caine and mar­i­juana. AFP

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