China uses drones to spot opium fields

By buseman · Jun 4, 2010 ·
  1. buseman
    BEIJING—China has begun using unmanned aircraft to track down illegal poppy crops being grown in the suburbs around its capital as part of a monthlong anti-drug campaign, police said Friday.

    Beijing police announced the start of the "Eagle Eye 10" campaign at a meeting Thursday, said an officer surnamed Zhang from the drug control department of the city's public security bureau.

    Like many Chinese officials he declined to give his full name.

    Police will be using unmanned drones for the first time, along with helicopters, to search out opium fields in Beijing and surrounding Hebei province.

    Authorities did not release specifics on how much opium is being cultivated in those areas.

    However, police arrested 2,138 people in Beijing in 1,600 drug cases from January through April, and seized more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of unspecified illegal drugs in the first four months of the year, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the city's narcotics squad chief.

    The "skycam" drones, mounted with a camera capable of capturing high-resolution photographs, can fly as high as 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) and were tested several times in May, according to the Global Times newspaper.

    The drones will fly over the seven counties surrounding Beijing as well as parts of neighboring Hebei province.

    Thursday marked the anniversary of China's first crackdown against opium back in 1839, when a government official confiscated opium from British
    traders and destroyed them, triggering the start of the Opium War.

    The Associated Press


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