China's 'own Walter White' produced designer drugs in secret labs that were exported worldwide
Police have arrested a university chemistry professor who allegedly sold "millions of US dollars" worth of psychoactive drugs over the internet to clients in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia, state media reported yesterday.
The professor, surnamed Zhang, first learned about the popularity of such drugs while teaching as a visiting academic in Australia, Xinhua reported.
He then started a chemical company in 2005 but had staff manufacture "hundreds of kilograms" of methylone, commonly used as a substitute for MDMA, or ecstasy, the report said.
Between March and November last year, the business sold at least 193kg of the substance to the overseas customers, Xinhua said.
The report did not provide a precise monetary figure, only quoting police as saying that Zhang earned "millions of US dollars" from the sales.
Xinhua dubbed Zhang "China's real-life Walter White" in reference to the fictional high school chemistry teacher and methamphetamine kingpin in the US hit cable TV series Breaking Bad.
The report did not identify his university, only describing it as "famous" and in the central city of Wuhan .
Last month, police raided Zhang's lab in the city, where they found 20kg of drugs and arrested eight people.
The report of Zhang's alleged dealings comes after police in May announced the arrest of a former chemistry professor on suspicion of selling a drug recipe to a gang which cooked up synthetic narcotics.
Mainland state media in May cited the government as saying the country had 14 million drug users, about 1 per cent of the population, and their numbers had increased by an annual average of 36 per cent in recent years.
Use of synthetic drugs such as crystal meth and methcathinone is growing in rural China.
Unlike like other popular drugs like cannabis and heroin, crystal meth another designer drugs require no raw products like opium and can be synthesised in labs from fairly common industrial chemicals.