Chinese police have arrested over 133,000 people and seized more than 40 tons of narcotics during a months-long crackdown on the illegal drug trade, the country's Ministry of Public Security announced Wednesday.
The nationwide campaign, which authorities have branded "ban drugs in hundreds of cities," has been ongoing for six months. Authorities also handled 115,000 drug-related crimes, including robberies, and 606,000 cases of drug use. The figures were nearly double those from the same period last year, while the amount of drugs seized was up over 44 percent, the ministry said, according to CNN.
Assistant minister of public security Liu Yuejin told Xinhua that drug trafficking groups have "suffered a heavy blow" and drug users have been "forcefully regulated."
The crackdown, however, has come at a price, with nine police officers having lost their lives during operations linked to the crackdown. Almost 700 officers were wounded in the operations, 76 of them seriously. The ministry is handing out awards to 60 law-enforcement units and 100 people involved with the crackdown.
Chinese police said that the country is facing increasingly difficult challenges in the battle against illegal drugs, and estimated that one out of every 100 people in the country was a drug user. Of particular concern, police said, was the rise in online drug dealing. Authorities urged Internet companies to strengthen supervision and safeguards against such activity, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Authorities have been keen to target increasingly popular synthetic drugs, such as methamphetamine. China's Guangdong province, which is home to 10 of the 108 cities targeted in the campaign, is the country's biggest market for illegal drugs. The province also has the largest number of addicts, with around 457,000 people on a register of suspected users, according to the provincial public security department. The total has been growing by about 40,000 people a year since 2009, the South China Morning Post reported.