New drugs and young addicts fan crime rates in China

Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - Drug-related crime has become much more common on mainland China in recent years as an increasing number of addicts have resorted to robbery and other violent crimes to fund their habits, according to a spokesman of the Supreme People's Court.

Courts nationwide heard 59,234 drug-related cases during 2010, a year-on-year increase of almost 15 percent. The courts convicted 66,298 people of such crimes, said Sun Jungong at a briefing held in Beijing.

Among them, 29 percent received sentences ranging from five years to death, Sun said.

During the first five months of this year, China's courts heard 25,986 cases involving drugs and convicted 24,815 criminals.

"When they are in need of money, some drug addicts become reckless and commit crimes, including robbery and theft, so they can get the money they need for drugs," he said.

Statistics from the top court also show that new types of drugs - mostly methamphetamine and ketamine - now have a growing presence in mainland.

Among drugs seized across the country in 2010, 46 percent were the new types of drugs, a rise of 6.5 percent from 2009.

Among drugs seized during the past five months, the proportion of new drugs almost reached half of the total haul and they were more plentiful than heroin for the first time.

The emergence of new drugs, especially synthetic drugs, has posed new challenges for the nation's law enforcement officers, its public health resources and social stability, said Sun.

The top court will speed up work on establishing criteria for imposing penalties in cases involving new drugs, Sun added.

Gao Guijun, a judge from the Supreme People's Court, said drugs not only harm the people who take them but the whole of society.

He said drug users often hallucinate and, in their altered state, might become violent or cause traffic accidents.

Local media reported that Fu Chengjun, a Hangzhou resident in East China's Zhejiang province, took ketamine (K-powder) on his way to pick up friends in May 2010. He hallucinated and lost control of his car, running into 20 people and seriously injuring one of them.

The 24-year-old was sentenced to five years in prison after he was convicted of endangering public safety.

Gao also pointed out that more juveniles have been taking drugs and getting involved in drug-related crime in recent years.

In addition to lessons from school and their families, he urged everyone to do all they can to educate children about the dangers of taking drugs.

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