Illegal drug trade in China: 'Golden Triangle' as a base, drug trafficking pass through and to the world.

Opium growing and cultivation in ‘ Golden Triangle’ increases recently. Burma produced 580 tons opium in 2010, which is 20% more than that in 2009. China, as a close neighbour to Burma, is on the routes of drug smuggling from Burma to international markets. However, within recent two decades, China is not only a channel of drug trafficking but also a drug consuming country. Previously, drug was only secretly planted and trafficked in remote countryside and rural areas, but rich people in large cities become considerable drug consumers recently. As the largest city in China, Shanghai has a rapid increase of one fifth in the number of drug addicts compared to last year. Particularly, addicts who are middle or higher classes and who are high-educated are much more than before. It implicates that the drug consuming groups in China are changing from low-end towards high-end.

For China, the drug smuggling is mainly from Myanmar, and much less from other countries in ‘Golden Triangle’. Thailand did not produce drug since 1990’s and does not border on China. On the other hand, Myanmar is sharing border with Yunnan province and Guangxi province of China, thus the majority of drug trafficking in China is from Myanmar. Moreover, it is estimated that 80% of heroin produced in ‘Golden Triangle’ is trafficking through China to the international markets, and 50% of these heroin has been consumed by Chinese addicts.

Thailand and China both faces the problem of drug trafficking that mainly oriented from Burma. Thai and Chinese narcs have launched more frequent cooperation programs and sent narc officials to each other’s country for better information sharing and cooperation in suppressing drug trafficking. In 2006, narcs of China, Thailand and Burma cooperated together and destroyed the largest drug smuggling network in ‘Golden Triangle’ area. They arrested 29 smugglers, captured 1045 kilograms of heroin and 1360 ecstasy pills. Since then, there is no such large smuggling ring in China appearing but only small streams of drug trafficking.

In mainland of China, several large cities control the network of drug trafficking. Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Gongbei are cities found largest number of heroin and ice drug in south-eastern area in China. In west-eastern area, Kunming, Chengdu and Nanjing are the key drug selling centres.  After 2008, Jilin, which is a northern province and borders on North Korea, has become China’s largest drug smuggling market. Drugs flow into Jilin from all areas in China, are reproduced to be purer, packaged and sent out of the border to North Korea. In 2009, it is reported that 367 drug smugglers were arrested and 6139 tons of drugs were captured in Jilin Province, which was the most serious in China in that year.

On the other hand, some cities become so called ‘substation’ of drug transferring. Beijing is one of the largest. It is not difficult to understand Beijing is vulnerable for the geography reason (Drugs can be transported from Beijing to Jilin within 1 day through any route: railway, highway or small rural routes). Also, Beijing is a well-developed city; transportation and mailing service are very convenient there. Drug smuggling is almost sent out of China by air or mail.  Smugglers normally find poor people from countries, like Nigeria in Africa and Myanmar in Asia, to send drugs. Those drug delivers hide drugs in luggage or in body, and take different flights to destination countries.   In recent years, drug smuggler use mailing as new drug delivering way, as it is easier to escape from police. They hide drugs into products, such as VCD machine, carpet and books, pretend normal business delivering, and ask a random person (like a neighbour) who has no idea about the drugs to collect the mails. Mailing drugs could help smugglers avoid being captured with drugs on their hand, thus significantly reduces risk of being sentenced (Drug smugglers can only be sentenced successfully if they are found having obvious ‘intention’ of sending drugs, according to Chinese law). Women sending drugs are also more than before. Some of them hide drugs in underwear or wig; some of them are pregnant and swallow drugs into stomach.