China’s Drug Problem

China has been a mysterious country for quite some time. Censorship, brutality, lack of democracy, and profound communist history has given the mindset to the average outsider that China is a country that controls people, politics, and trade with an iron fist. Alternatively, China has brought a lot to the world; Walmart’s cheap goods; Kung-Fu movies; chopsticks; the Fu Man Chu beard; silky pajamas. We always look at what’s coming out of China, but we never stop to think what’s coming in to China. One of those things is drugs. A lot of them. 

With a country that has one-fifth of the world’s population, it’s easy to assume that drugs are a problem. And that assumption is correct. The government recognizes about 12,000,000 drug addicts living in China. 

Drugs have been arriving into the country from the two main operating regions for illegal opium production. The first one is the golden crescent. The golden crescent blankets three countries; Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. Afghanistan and Pakistan jointly grow the opiates and create the opium. Iran is the receiving consumer by way of the mountainous regions. The second operating region is the golden triangle, which stretches from the top of Burma to the bottom of Thailand.

The most common drug that is smuggled into China is heroin. Starting from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, it is then shipped out, safely making its way to a coastal Chinese city such as Yunnan, then shipped to places such as Burma, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Sometimes it is even shipped cross the Pacific to countries like the US and Canada. 

Most smugglers are armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades to better combat the Chinese law enforcement and rival smugglers that try to catch them. Most smugglers feel that they would rather have to conduct firefights with authorities than go to jail. Of course when dealing with any illegal activity involving money, money laundering is involved. It’s such a frequent problem that banks have started training their employees to report any suspicious financial activities that occur in a bank account.  

Outside of opiates, the government has a funded pharmaceutical program to farm ephedra to make alkaloid, pseudoephedrine, and ephedrine. These chemicals are made for purchase internationally. People then buy chemicals in other countries and smuggle them back into China. The chemicals are sold to criminal organizations in Hong Kong and Japan to secretly develop meth.

The other drug that has been in demand these past few years, due to the party scene becoming vastly more popular, is ecstasy. It became so popular in larger cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, that domestic manufacturing couldn’t meet demand for the synthetic wonder drug and it had to be imported in from the Netherlands. 

Domestic manufacturers of ecstasy then mix the powder that’s imported from parts of Europe with caffeine and ketamine making it significantly cheaper to manufacture. It costs about half a cent to make and can cost from upwards to 40 dollars to buy.

photo cred.

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