A NEW generation of illegal drugs is sweeping through secondary cities in China with registered users in south China's Guangdong Province alone reaching 240,000.
The new drugs, including ketamine, ecstasy and crystal meth, have taken the place of heroin in China and have become the most popular narcotics in disco bars and karaokes in rural areas, the Guangzhou-based Southern Daily reported yesterday.
It said users in Guangdong Province spend more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) every year on drugs. Those who got addicted were almost all young people who took the drugs when socializing.
A 16-year-old addict, Su Lei, told the newspaper that he started taking drugs socially after he failed his college entrance exam.
More than 20 young people died from taking drugs in one village alone this year, the report said. Despite a long-term crackdown on narcotics in China, drug abuse which had first taken hold in the big cities, was now permeating more than 1,000 counties and secondary cities across the nation.
Instead of being smuggled in from foreign countries, the drugs in rural China were mostly domestically made, the report said. Some were cooked in family workshops and hidden from police checks.
"The new generation of drugs are easy to make, for example, making ketamine only needs ingredients available at every drugstore and basic chemistry knowledge," the report quoted a source as saying.
Some drug dealers had their workshops into the mountains or forests. They were so discreet that even their families had no idea what they were doing.
Guangdong police cracked more than 12,000 drug related cases last year while arresting more than 15,000 suspects and confiscating 11 tons of drugs.
But using and selling drugs is becoming increasingly transparent in many small cities. Some entertainment facilities even condone the practice and help with equipment.
By Wang Xiang