China meth bust
In southern Guangdong province, thousands of police officers seized three tons of crystal meth, along with other illegal drug-related paraphernalia and weapons. Reuters

Chinese law enforecement dealt a heavy blow to the nation's drug trade with a recent drug bust in southern China that resulted in the seizure of three tons of crystal meth and a crackdown on a major Chinese drug ring. Local Chinese news is reporting that in the early hours just before the new year, on Dec. 29, a sting operation was being carried out on one of the country’s biggest drug centers.

The drug raid took place in Lufeng, a city in southern Guangdong province, involved thousands of police officers, and eventually ended with the detention of 182 suspects who were part of 18 major drug gangs in the region, one of whom was even a former local Communist Party chief and village head. The China Daily is reporting that the effort was a special operation targeting 77 drug-producing locations, which seized not only 2,925 kilograms of methamphetamine but also 260 kilograms of ketamine powder and more than 23 tons of raw materials used for drug production.

Guo Shaobo, the deputy director-general of Guangdong Provincial Department of Public Security, said that the bust is a “heavy blow” to the country’s drug trade. “More than one-third of the country’s total methamphetamine over the past three years came from Lufeng,” Guo said in a press conference in the provincial capital Guangzhou.

In addition to the drug materials, police also seized guns, ammunition, homemade explosivess and illegal knives and weapons. Aside from specially licensed hunters and specialists, gun ownership by Chinese citizens is illegal. A gunfight broke out in the midst of the crackdown, seriously injuring three police officers. Two officers were shot, and another suffered a broken leg after being run down by one of the drug dealers trying to escape. The three officers are expected to make a full recovery.

More than 3,000 police officers, two helicopters, four motorboats and many police dogs all played a part in the operation, which took down several local druglords, including Cai Dongjia, a former Communist Party member, regarded by the police as one of the big players in the drug trafficking business in the area. Cai was previously the head of Boshe village in Lufeng and also a deputy of Shanwei People’s Congress until he was removed from his position after being investigated for drug production. Twenty percent of the families in Cai’s village were also investigated in connection with narcotics trafficking.

Even before the cult of "Breaking Bad," the American television show based on a high school chemistry teacher who turns to producing and selling drugs, particularly meth, out of desperation, crystal meth had seen a rise in popularity in Asia. A recent United Nations report on drug use from last year said that methamphetamines are being increasingly used among the Chinese, becoming the second-most-used illegal drug after heroin.