NANNING, Aug. 15 -- China and Vietnam will intensify joint cross-border drug trafficking work following massive success in a recent crackdown to curb the toxic trend.
Figures released by China National Narcotics Control Commission (CNNCC)last week showed the two countries captured 3,820 suspects implicated in 3,180 cases regarding illicit drug trafficking since March. A total of 228.4 kg of heroin was confiscated in the four-month-long clamp-down, according to the CNNCC.
"We will continue such cooperation in 2015," An Guojun, deputy secretary-general of the CNNCC told Xinhua.
This is the first time the two countries joined efforts to fight drug trafficking. It comes amid rampant multinational drug smuggling cases along the China-Vietnam border, particularly in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which shares a 1,020-km-long land border with Vietnam.
China stepped up efforts in recent years to control illegal drug transportation in Yunnan Province, the forefront of the country's fight against illegal drugs. Following that clamp down, Guangxi, which boasts many loosely supervised shortcuts linking China and Vietnam, has naturally become a magnet for smugglers.
Official statistics reveal in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Guangxi police nabbed 181 kg, 212 kg and 421 kg respectively of illegal substances in the border area. They mainly came from the Middle East and southeast Asia.
In 2011, Guangxi's border police seized 67.9 kg of heroin. That number surged to 244.8 kg just a year later, prompting an intensified raid in the area. The drugs still flow, however, with local police still seizing 70 kg of heroin in 2013, indicating the severe situation in the area.
Border cities or counties including Dongxing, Pingxiang, Ningming and Daxin face particularly serious situation drug problems, with substances transported to China via Vietnam. According to Guangxi's border police, they usually act as a "transfer stop" for drugs sourced from South-East Asia's "Golden Triangle" and sold in China.
It is under such circumstances that China and Vietnam blazed the trail of cooperation to counter the flood of drugs, An said.
"It signified our mutual intention and determination to battle the penetration of drugs," he said.
While China has placed huge resources toward stemming the flow of drugs, new synthetic drugs from China are finding their way into to Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, complicating anti-drug trafficking work.
In the joint campaign, Vietnamese police had multiple cases where synthetic drugs imported from China were found.
Li Yue, deputy director with CNNCC's Guangxi branch, said the region has intercepted more than 90 kg of synthetic drugs ready to be transported from Guangxi's Fangchenggang City to Vietnam this year, including 46 kg of meth and 50 kg of ketamine.
Many synthetic drugs are smuggled disguised as coffee, candy, juice and tea. It is more difficult to discover these cases, Li added.
"The smugglers use the new drugs to trade for traditional drugs such as heroin and opium," he said.
Increasingly diverse logistics mean inspections are getting tougher. Adapting to stricter borders, smugglers evolved to use air, sea, mail, or, simply hiding drugs in multiple vehicles carrying vegetables and fruits.
In August 2012, a van loaded with 200-plus boxes of dragon fruit was found hiding 62.2 kg of heroin in Chongzuo City thanks to a tip-off.
"There were so many vehicles constantly passing by we could not have found the drugs if not for the information in advance," said Wang Zhixing, vice captain of Chongzuo's border police.
As urgency for change mounts, China and Vietnam's joint efforts in controlling cross-border drug trafficking has become glaringly necessary as such cooperation allows for information verification, mutual investigation, exchange of evidence, etc, according to An Guojun.
Liu Feng, captain of the anti-drug trafficking team in Honghe Prefecture, Yunnan, said that the two countries should step up efforts in building the cooperation mechanism. He urged the two sides to improve the efficiency of information feedback to pave the way for further joint work.
And that is exactly what the countries are doing. Both sides will improve the mechanism by exchanging drug-trafficking situation analysis on a regular basis, while a database that collects the latest crime information will be built to facilitate future work, according to the CNNCC.
"China and Vietnam have pioneered a new model of cooperation in battling drug smuggling, which will serve as a good example for future work between China and other member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations," An said.