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Chinese police arrest dozens in huge crystal meth raids

By Sophie Brown and Susan Wang, CNN
January 3, 2014 -- Updated 0856 GMT (1656 HKT)
Authorities seized three tons of crystal meth and arrested 182 people in a raid on Boshe, a village in Guangdong, China.
Authorities seized three tons of crystal meth and arrested 182 people in a raid on Boshe, a village in Guangdong, China.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police seize 3 tons of crystal meth in a village in Guangdong
  • Some 182 people were arrested in 109 raids on Sunday
  • The area is a notorious hotspot for drug production and trade

Hong Kong (CNN) -- More than 3,000 paramilitary forces and police descended on a small coastal village in China's Guangdong province -- many of them in helicopters and speedboats.

In the early hours of Sunday, they conducted 109 raids in Boshe, a village of 14,000 people.

In the massive crackdown on the region's illicit narcotic trade, police seized three tons of crystalline methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or ice, and arrested 182 people with suspected links to 18 drug rings, according to a statement released Thursday by Guangdong's public security bureau.

They recovered another 100 tons of raw materials for producing drugs, as well as guns, knives and a grenade, a spokesperson for the public security bureau told CNN on Friday.

Some 77 drug factories were shut down in the raid, police say.

Boshe is located inside the city of Lufeng, long considered by authorities as a hotbed for the production and trade of drugs. In the last three years, one-third of China's crystal meth came from the city, according to the security bureau's statement.

In Boshe, more than one in five households are directly involved in the trade or production of drugs, the statement said.

Since the 1990s, there has been little industry in the region and many residents have moved to nearby cities like Shenzhen in search of better opportunities.

According to the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper, growing numbers of villagers in Lufeng have turned their homes and farms into drug factories.

Guangdong authorities did not give an estimated value of the drugs seized on Sunday, but the South China Morning Post newspaper said the haul would be worth around U.S. $232 million.

Police in Guangdong have seized 8.1 tons of drugs and made 10,836 arrests since July 2013, when the province launched a campaign to crack down on narcotics, said Guo Shabo, the public security bureau's deputy director in a statement.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 70% of the 326 illegal drug-making facilities shut down in China in 2012 were manufacturing crystal meth. More than half of these laboratories were in Guangdong.

Some 88 tons of methamphetamine were seized worldwide in 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, according to to the UNODC.

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