More than 3,000 armed police raided a Chinese village that had reportedly been transformed into a giant drug laboratory, seizing around three tons of methamphetamine and arresting 14 Communist Party officials. In a dramatic operation that owed more to the rifle-clogged slums of South America than China's rural south, helicopters gave cover to security forces as they swept into Guangdong province's Boshe village.
As camouflage-clad operatives battered down village doors, speedboats lurked off shore to catch any suspects trying to flee across the water. Qiu Wei, a senior anti-drugs officer, told state media that a third of China's entire methamphetamine or crystal meth supply had been coming from this one village, which has a population of 14,000. He did not specify how much that was. Around 20 per cent of local residents were either "directly involved or had a stake in drug production and trafficking rings", Qiu claimed.
The operation to retake Boshe began at around 4am last Sunday, when Li Chunsheng, Guangdong's vice-governor, gave the order to invade, the Legal Daily newspaper reported. Police entered the village "with lightning speed" and over the coming hours 182 arrests were made in the surrounding region. Among the suspects arrested was Cai Dongjia, who police described as their "number one target".
Cai had been the Communist Party village chief and was one of 14 government officials taken into custody for suspected links to 18 drug rings. Cai Hanwu, another party official, was caught with 78lb of crystal meth in his home, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post said.
Qiu said there was no way the village's drug trade could have become "so rampant" without the collusion of police and government officials. A local newspaper reporter, who was allowed to accompany police during the raid, said: "Boshe was filled with a strange chemical smell. "The reporter went with the raid team into a residential house and found that all the rooms apart from the bedroom were being used to make crystal meth.
"The rooms were packed with barrel after barrel of brownish, half-finished products giving them the appearance of soybean sauce workshops," he added. For police in Guangdong, the raid was the highlight of an anti-drug campaign that began last July. Since then nearly 11,000 suspects have been detained and 8.1 tons of drugs seized.