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China executes 8 in anti-drug battle

EIGHT people who had been sentenced to death for drug production and trafficking were executed yesterday in China amid intensified crackdowns ahead of the annual international anti-drug day, which falls today.

Among those executed were five Chinese men and one woman found guilty in four cases of drug production and sales involving more than 400 kilograms of narcotics such as heroin and methamphetamine. They were identified as Wang Xilin, Lu Gang, Zhou Zhenjun, Wang Li, Li Ersa and Yan Chaomin.

The court did not disclose the locations of the executions. The death penalty is usually imposed by local courts and subject to review by the Supreme People's Court.

Also yesterday, drug trafficker Tian Yulai was executed in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province. And in Quanzhou City in southeast China's Fujian Province, Liu Huiyang was executed. He was convicted of manufacturing narcotics in 2005.

In addition to those cases, the Liaoning Higher People's Court in northeast China said yesterday that two men convicted of heading a gang that smuggled drugs from Myanmar into China were executed in May.

The Supreme People's Court said China still faces a grave challenge in its battle against drugs because of the worsening situation globally.

Chinese courts handled some 14,200 drug-related cases from January through May, up 12 percent from the same period last year, the court said.

"We have seen rising numbers of people in drug trafficking gangs in recent years. Their activities tend to be more and more professional," said Wu Yanjun of the Liaoning Higher People's Court.

Courts in the province handled 1,054 drug cases from June last year to May, involving 1,797 people. The number of cases was 60 percent more than the previous period, and the number of people involved was up 90 percent, Wu said.

Chinese Customs also indicated a rise of nearly 16 percent in drug trafficking this year, with 198 cases, involving 278 suspected traffickers and the seizure of 430 kilograms of drugs.

The development of China's transport links to Southeast Asia has brought more products from the region, but it's also brought illegal drugs. Yunnan borders Southeast Asia's notorious "Golden Triangle" drug producing region including Myanmar and Laos. For traffickers, this means more roads and easier ways to smuggle drugs.

"Since the Kunming-Bangkok Road was completed last year, we have arrested many suspects trying to smuggle drugs to China," said Gong Huawu, deputy head of the Yunnan provincial border defense troops.

"As trade and personnel exchanges between the two countries increase, we will be facing much heavier anti-drug pressures," he said.

The "drug road" to China is not limited to the Kunming-Bangkok Road. Situated at the juncture of China, Southeast Asia and South Asia, Yunnan has 20 national ports and more than 90 roads to other countries. Police have increased spot checks and set up more mobile checkpoints while keeping road traffic flowing.


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