12,000 arrested for selling drugs online
Mainland police arrested 12,125 suspects and confiscated more than 300kg of illicit drugs in a nationwide crackdown on narcotics sold through online chat rooms.
It is the first time authorities have smashed a nationwide drug distribution system which used the online media as its main transaction platform, Xinhua reported yesterday.
In the campaign, which started in March, police busted 144 drug rings involved in narcotics trafficking and 22 drug-making plants.
The report did not specify what drugs had been seized.
Police were tipped off to the scale of the problem after uncovering online chat rooms in the western cities of Lanzhou and Xian that were being used to peddle drugs, it said. The online drug syndicate system was described as 'super-large' by the Ministry of Public Security, adding it was 'a new type of online criminal offence' and describing it as 'very bad, very extensive and very dangerous'.
Via the webcam of the chat rooms, members were taking drugs together, sharing their drug-taking experiences and buying and selling drugs.
Many mainland internet services host video chat rooms. Their sizes vary, with some holding 10 people and some up to 500. Drug-taking activities usually took place in the chat rooms holding around 10 people.
Gu Jian , deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security internet division, was quoted as saying that those smaller video chat rooms were more difficult to find.
They were usually active between 9pm and 4am. 'Newcomers were only allowed to enter the chat room after being introduced by 'acquaintances' and taking drugs live via webcam,' Xinhua cited Gu as saying.
Police began detaining suspects in early September, Xinhua said. Most of the people under investigation were youths and teenagers, the youngest being 14, said a report by the Beijing-based Legal Daily.
The number of registered drug users on the mainland as of June, according to the Ministry of Public Security