Synthetic drug criminals to face heavy penalties

Updated: Jun 27, 2022 China Daily Print
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Procuratorial organs are suggesting heavy punishment for people who commit crimes related to synthetic drug use, which is becoming more prominent in China, prosecutors with the Supreme People's Procuratorate said.

The number of people prosecuted for traditional drug crimes dropped from 109,000 in 2019 to 75,000 last year. However, the proportion of those involved in synthetic drug cases increased from 53 percent to 57 percent during the same period, according to the SPP.

Chen Guoqing, the SPP's deputy-general prosecutor, told a news conference on Friday that drug users have been turning to synthetic narcotics and psychotropics-drugs controlled by the State-in recent years as tough control measures have blocked access to more traditional drugs, forcing users to find alternatives. The conference was held two days ahead of the 35th International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The manufacture, trafficking and consumption of the synthesized drugs are becoming more frequent. Thus, procuratorial organs are suggesting heavy punishment for such crimes, Chen said.

"Some people do not fully understand the harm of these new synthetic drugs, which can lead to feelings of confusion and high levels of addiction, and can also result in physical harm and lead to associated crimes," he said.

Judging from recent cases, the abuse of such drugs has become a problem in recent years.

They have been known to be involved in crimes such as rape, molestation and robberies, said Huang Weiping, a prosecutor of the SPP's criminal procuratorial office.

While handling such cases, prosecutors strictly distinguish between the legal and illegal use of the drugs, accurately identify the nature of the crimes and severely punish the offenders, Huang said.

"Those who use narcotics or psychotropics for the purpose of nonconsensual sex should be prosecuted for the crime of rape and other serious crimes, instead of being degraded to the crime of deceiving others into taking drugs," he said.

In one case revealed by the SPP, a 32-year-old man surnamed Guo from Zhejiang province came up with the idea of giving his girlfriend ecstasy to improve mental stimulation. He bought drugs and put them in his girlfriend's drinks several times without her knowledge between 2015 and 2020, causing her to experience dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and other symptoms.

In October 2020, Guo invited two female friends to have a meal. While they were away from the table, he added drugs to their beer glasses. One of the women spat out the beer when she noticed the taste was wrong, but the other drank the beer and experienced dizziness and vomiting, which she later reported to the police.

In January 2021, police in the Putuo district of Zhoushan, Zhejiang, began investigating Guo, who was suspected of tricking the women into using the drugs. In March, the case was transferred to the local procuratorate for prosecution. A public lawsuit against Guo was initiated in April.

In August, the Putuo District People's Court convicted Guo. He was sentenced to three years and six months in prison and fined 3,000 yuan ($448).

Guo appealed the verdict, but in November, the Zhoushan Intermediate People's Court upheld it.

From 2019 to March this year, about 160,000 people were prosecuted for synthetic drug crimes, including some 150,000 people involved with methamphetamines and other drugs, and 18,000 for using psychoactive substances, according to the SPP.

Most of the traffickers involved with synthetic drug sales are also users, with young people being the most susceptible. Some frequent offenders take advantage of the immaturity of some young people and lure them into committing drug-related crimes, said Yuan Ming, head of the SPP's criminal procuratorial office.

The traffickers generally use the internet to conduct transactions to keep the drugs, involved personnel and payments separate. In addition to using instant messaging software, they also use code names and terms when they contact each other, making evidence collection and examination more difficult, Yuan said.


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