Seven arrested in raid on Chinese factory producing energy drink laced with ‘party drug’

Beverages found to contain traces of psychotropic drug that can be lethal in high doses, police say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 September, 2017, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 September, 2017, 5:26pm

Seven employees of an energy drink manufacturer in southern China have been arrested after the company’s products were found to contain traces of psychotropic drugs, local police reported on Wednesday.

The arrests were made during a raid on the premises of Wei Er Le in Foshan, Guangdong province, which manufactures the Kawa Tide drink on behalf of the brand’s owner, Sichuan Tibet Holding Company, police from the Nanhai district of Foshan said on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblogging service.

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Several batches of the drink and items of production equipment were confiscated during the raid, the date of which was not given in the police statement.

Tests later confirmed that the drink contained the class one drug GHB (Gamma hydroxybutyrate), which is sometimes referred to as a “party drug” due to the fact that in small doses it can cause feelings of euphoria. In large doses it can be lethal.

The drink, which comes in a distinctive black-and-yellow striped bottle, is popular in bars and nightclubs and costs about 38 yuan (US$5.80), according to a report by Chinese news website Thepaper.cn.

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Police in Guangdong began investigating the factory in early August after receiving reports from members of the public that the drink and others like it caused feelings of excitement and giddiness, the report said.

The raid came after similar operations were conducted at two factories in Zhongshan, also in Guangdong, that produced Kawa Spring, another energy drink that was also found to contain GHB.

The drinks take their names from the kava plant, which is grows in the western Pacific islands.

The production and sale of all “kawa” drinks were recently banned by the Guangdong government, Beijing Youth Daily reported on September 6.

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“As far as we know, the products are sold in more than 20 provinces and cities across the country,” an unnamed police official was quoted as saying.

On September 5, police in Guizhou province arrested more than 50 people in connection with selling the drink in nightclubs, Guizhou Metropolis Daily reported on Friday.

GHB was added to China’s list of banned substances in 2005.