Premier says drugs are biggest threat to public security
Taipei, April 28 (CNA) Premier Wu Den-yih said Wednesday that the problem of drugs poses the biggest threat to Taiwan's public security at present, and the authorities should intensify their clamp down against drugs.
During the first three months of this year, police seized a total of 1,922 kilograms of drugs, up 1,099 kg, or 75 percent from the same period last year, according to the National Policy Agency (NPA) under the Ministry of the Interior.
Police investigated a total of 12,225 cases involving the possession of drugs in the first quarter, up 987 from the same period last year, the NPA said at a conference on public security in the Executive Yuan.
And 12,816 suspects were arrested, up 1,068, or 9 percent, from the same time last year, the agency said.
One of the reasons why the number of drug cases and people arrested have increased is because ketamine has been classified as an illegal drug, according to the agency.
Under a law revision that took effect last November, individuals who possess more than 20 grams of "third-grade" banned drugs like ketamine are subject to a jail sentence of up to three years. Those who possess less than 20 grams of the drug will be fined between NT$10,000 (US$317) to NT$50,000.
To further prevent the spread of ketamine, a legislative judiciary and laws and statutes committee asked the Ministry of Justice Wednesday to discuss within one month whether ketamine should be reclassified from a "third-grade" to a "second-grade" banned drug, so that heavier criminal responsibility will be applied to those drug possessors.
Deputy Minister of Justice Wu Chen-huan said that most members of the ministry's drug review committee considered ketamine as a party drug with limited drug dependence.
Classifying the drug as a second-grade drug may increase the cost to society, Wu said. Such a change could also result in more people who would be arrested dropping out of school or losing their jobs, he said.
Premier Wu on Wednesday requested the police agency to not only step up investigations and crackdowns against drugs, but to also join forces with social and private groups and use education, counseling and other methods to raise public awareness about the dangers of drug use.
(By Hsieh Chia-chen, Justin Su and Fanny Liu) ENDITEM/cs
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