Foreigners are committing more drug crimes in China, and it appears Guangdong is one of their favorite spots to operate. There has been a 17% increase in drug-related crimes by foreigners across the country in the past year, with police focusing on Guangdong as a particular problem, reportedChina Daily.
Liu Yuejin, director of the narcotics control bureau for the Ministry of Public Security, described the drug problem:
“Due to high market demand, the desire for profits, and loose management, foreign drug gangs are active in southern China, including Guangdong and Yunnan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region,”
There were 1,491 drug-related crimes involving foreigners last year in China, a year-on-year increase of 15.4%. This lead to the arrests of 1,963 foreign drug suspects, an increase of 17.3% from the year before.
Liu said the majority of foreign suspects are of African origin, and they tend to smuggle heroin from the Golden Crescent (consisting of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) or marijuana and cocaine from Africa and South America.
Cui Qingchao, deputy director of the Guangzhou customs anti-smuggling department, said foreign traffickers are able to cheaply purchase methamphetamine in the Guangdong cities of Lufeng and Jieyang.
Cui said that some African drug suspects serve as “agents” for Pakistani drug lords. Cui goes on to say,
“After obtaining drugs from these drug lords, they usually hire foreign traffickers who hide the drugs in their bodies or luggage. They take the drugs to Beijing and Shanghai or send them to Guangdong and other provinces through express mail services.”
Despite language barriers and a predisposition to commit violence posed by these foreigners, Liu said authorities will increase supervision of foreign residents, especially in Guangdong.
Like other Chinese provinces, Guangdong often launches ill-fated campaigns against corruption, prostitution or terrorism. While some campaigns enjoy moderate levels of success, when it comes to the drug trade, attempts at intervention have been less than stellar. Not to put too fine a point on it, the province’s Deputy Police Chief recently admitted that he is unable to eradicate drug production in Lufeng.
“It will take arduous work over a long period to solve the problem of Lufeng. We are trying to use high-handed measures to clamp down on its drug trade. We hope to see a turning point in the second half of the year,” said Guo Shaobo, Deputy Head of Guangdong Police Department, China News reported.
Locally known as “the fortress”, Lufeng is responsible for one-third of all crystal meth production in China.
Located on the coast of the South China Sea, Lufeng is notorious for its meth production. The city’s stronghold of Boshe village, nestled deep in the mountains, provides the perfect hideout for the family-run meth empire.
Suspects run at the first sign of police, while villagers intently watch for any movement on city outskirts. In some cases, villagers organize road barricades to block police from entering, Yangcheng Evening Newsreported.
The drug trade is an open secret in the village, given that the party chief and some corrupt police officials shield its drug production. In fact, the party chief was named the “biggest drug trafficker” in the region. More than one-fifth of all households are linked to drug production or trafficking, which is the only profitable livelihood for many villagers.
Still, even to some experienced policemen, the extent of the village’s drug operation remains shocking. In December 2013, a massive police raid involving more than 3,000 policemen, using helicopters and speedboats, seized three tons of crystal meth and 23 tons of raw materials, South China Morning Postreported.
According to Guo, authorities in Guangdong have seized a total of 14.1 tons of drugs, with a street value of nearly RMB 160 million, since launching “Operation Thunder” in July 2013. The province has busted 320 criminal drug rings, arrested 20,403 people and dismantled 361 drug production bases. In addition to the traditionally known drugs, new drug varieties are surfacing, such as a new drug called Khat or African Tea.
Even with those impressive statistics, the Deputy Police Chief is less than optimistic about his department’s ability to stem the flow of drugs into Guangdong.
A senior Public Security Bureau official in Guangdong Province’s Lufeng City has been caught using a fake identity to purchase a total of 192 homes, Nanfang Daily reports. His brother has now sold many of them off to hide the official’s guilt, according to the paper.
Zhao Haibin allegedly owned properties in Shenzhen, Huizhou, Lufeng and Zhuhai. It has already been confirmed that, despite working as an official, Zhao had an extra I.D. that said he was a businessman.
According to Huang Shenyi, who is leading the investigation, he even had business interests as far away as Chongqing and he was worth an estimated 100 million yuan.
The investigation, which has involved the Lufeng People’s Court, shows that Zhao’s deception was highly systematic, using I.D. from Shanwei City under the name of Zhao Yong to commit under-the-table activities.
The lavish temple that Lin Jian is accused of owning
A low-level government official based in Shenzhen’s Longgang District has been accused by villagers in Guangdong Province’s Shanwei Municipal Region of building family monuments with public money. The villagers claim he built a family tomb with 100,000 RMB and an ancestral temple with 1 million RMB, Liaoning Satellite Television reports.
As the province pilots forcing officials to declare their assets, netizens are eager to know where the official, Lin Jian, got the money. According to residents of Tanxi Village in Lufeng, despite being based in Shenzhen’s Nanwan Street, Lin has used public money to build the family monuments.
The cost of burying the dead has been a controversial issue in China in recent years. Many families are choosing the more affordable and environmentally friendly method of sea burials.
The tomb that allegedly belongs to Lin’s family
The ancestral temple has elements of both Ming and Qing Dynasty architecture and was built with top quality materials, the villagers claim. If their claim is true, then the constructions would be unaffordable to somebody in Lin Jian’s income bracket.
This news comes at a doubly inopprtune time for Lin as China has just announced data on its level of income inequality. It was the first time since 2001 China had officially announced its GINI coefficient, which showed tremendous disparity between China’s wealthy and those less fortunate.
12/18 17:00 update: Photo of one of three netizens detained as they arrived at Guangzhou’s Grandview Mall this afternoon to rally in support of the Wukan villagers and, via Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper, the makeshift Chinese/foreign press center in Wukan, date unknown:
12/17 22:45 update: Activists in Hong Kong have uploaded photos from a small protest held there today in support of the Wukan villagers:
12/17 20:45 update: At Seeing Red in China, Yaxue Cao translates a number of Sina Weibo posts which offer a close look at some of the deeper problems in Wukan:
Wukan has become a specimen of [China’s] failure in village governance. A close look at the multiple protests since September shows that: 1. The position of party secretary has been held by one man named Xue Chang (薛昌) for over 40 years [...] 2. For years the land dealings have been monopolized by the party secretary, and the village strongmen collide with higher-level officials to establish a strong interest chain and a network that loots the village’s wealth without scruples.
12/17 20:00 update: Rachel Beitarie has posted the contents of a pamphlet being handed out by propaganda officials in Wukan reflecting the Shanwei government’s version of events:
In mid November…some villagers posted a message on the internet that “Wukan village temporary council committee plans to organize a petition demonstration on November 21 calling for attention from both domestic and international media”.
The local authorities are demanding that we agree to sign a contract selling our land. They’ve also asked the villagers to voluntarily go down to the police security bureau and confess their crimes in exchange for a cash reward. They’re doing this for two reasons – to stop the protests and also to use Wukan as an example. They want other villages in the region to know that they will be rewarded for complying with the authorities. No one in the village is going to do it, there’s too much solidarity.
12/17 19:00 update: Photos of today’s pagoda rally from Twitter user @dc_b
12/17 16:30 update: Two new series of photos of today’s village meeting followed by a procession through Wukan here and here.
Sorry to bring you this so late, but we have been following the ongoing situation in Wukan, on the outskirts of Shanwei in eastern Guangdong province.
Oiwan Lam breaks the news in English (disclosure: I also work for GVO) that villagers in Wukan have evicted Communist Party officials and police following the death of Xue Jinbo, who died the previous day under suspect circumstances while in police custody.
Xue had previously been elected by villagers as one of several representatives following clashes with police in September over land illegally acquired for a Country Garden estate development. Thousands attend Xue’s funeral while police place the village under siege.
Cover photo for this story and above video via ABC.
The banner reads: "Everyone has a responsibility in fighting corruption and graft." (Stringer / Courtesy of Reuters)
The Telegraph‘s Malcolm Moore arrives in Wukan and, declaring the village to be in “open revolt”, begins filing a series of exclusive reports, noting that the few remaining Party officials in Wukan have fled after police tried to retake the village the previous day using tear gas and water cannons.
Thousands of villagers again gather around a pagoda which now serves as village hall. Police prevent fishing boats from leaving the harbor.
Screen captures of a text message sent out December 9 aimed at vilifying Xue and other representatives recently elected by villagers to represent them in the land dispute.
Villagers begin rationing food, Moore reports, saying they have enough supplies to withstand the siege for 10 days, but have also opened smuggling routes to bring in food from neighboring villages.
Wukan government officials try negotiating with protesters, offering to release the remaining newly elected representatives and Xue’s body and to make no further arrests if villagers take down their banners and allow police and Party officials to return.
Around a dozen supporters of the Wukan villagers stage a small support rally in a shopping area in Guangzhou’s Tianhe district. Hong Kong-based China Sun TV broadcasts an exclusive interview with Xue’s daughter, Xue Jianwan.
Officials in Shanwei, naming names in Chinese state-owned media, warn that organizers of the resistance will be punished, at the same time announcing that the Country Garden housing estate development project has been suspended.
Villagers’ resolve is tested as 30 locals join the government in trying to persuade people to allow police and Party officials, offering food supplies. A blank document being used to collect signatures of those willing to surrender is dismissed as a trap and fears grow that defectors will resort to abducting resistance organizers.
McClatchy reporter Tom Lasseter: “Big increase in the number of Western journalists in #Wukan today.”
Lasseter shares a few photos that suggest that people from areas surrounding Wukan are able to bring in some food for the villagers. Beijing-based Israeli reporter Rachel Beitarie arrives at Wukan but is immediately intercepted by plainclothes police, and Financial Times reporter Ben Marino seems to have successfully made it into the village sometime yesterday. NPR’s Louisa Lim, meanwhile, was still sharing photos from today’s village rally as of 1:40 pm.
Photos found on Sina Weibo, since deleted, apologies in advance for any possible copyright violations.