Comments Off on Cleaning China’s Methamphetamine village

GUANGZHOU, June 25 (Xinhua) — Police officer Li Jianzhao was once hated by villagers who cooked crystal methamphetamine in Boshe, a coastal village in Lufeng County, Guangdong Province.

The village of 14,000 was a center of production and trade of drugs, with over a third of meth consumed in China originating in Boshe and neighboring villages. One in five families were directly involved in drug production.

Li started work in Boshe the day after the raid on Dec. 29, 2013, when more than 3,000 armed police with helicopters and speedboats stormed the village, arrested 183 people and seized three tonnes of the drug.

Li leads 30 officers who continue to sniff out narcotics and maintain security.

Before the 2013 operation, Boshe was off limits to police. “When I started work here, the village was totally stinking, with sewage running everywhere, the ground covered by garbage and the air stinking of chemicals,” he said.

Pointing toward a ditch, which still smells bad, Li said, “three years ago, it was 100 times worse than it is now.”

Li’s job was not easy. “Making and selling meth was a way of life here. The villagers hated us for cleaning out the drugs,” he said.

When Li made home visits, he could not get doors open. Patrols were attacked and vehicles were vandalized.

“I understand how they felt. We caught many people who shared common surnames. People said there was no way out of making drugs,” said Li.

In the past three years, Li and his colleagues have helped the villagers find other ways to make a living.

“The village is beginning to change. There are not so many cold stares now. I even get invited to have tea in their houses,” he said.

Lufeng was a poor county of about 1.8 million people. Narcotics production became popular in 2009. To clean up the area and wean them off drugs, the government has built shrimp, geese and pig farms, said Cai Longqiu, CPC secretary in Boshe. “Many young people work in cities like Guangzhou and the villagers have taken up new jobs,” he said.

The wholesale price of a kilogram of meth was 8,000 yuan three years ago, but the price was up to 40,000 yuan per kilo last year, said Lin Yizhi, public security chief of Lufeng.

“We have squeezed the room for narcotics, and will continue to combat production and trade,” said Lin.

Anti-drug billboards are put up on the way from downtown Lufeng to Boshe. Wanted notices are also posted for suspects who are still on the run.

“It is easy to get tough on drugs, but it is difficult to completely stop the trade if we do not help people to find jobs, and if we do not help them abandon ideas of making quick money and breaking the law,” said Li.

Lin Shaoang, CPC secretary of Jiazi township, suggested building an industrial park and improving port facilities to help people make money.

“When an area is so heavily influenced by drugs, we cannot count on a few campaigns to clean it all away. Economic development and awareness campaigns are the ultimate solutions,” said Li.


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