Cablegate: Guangzhou -- A Hub for the Illegal Drug Trade
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0946/01 2350804
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230804Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6391
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000946
STATE FOR EAP/CM, INL/AAE
DEA HQ FOR OE/OEE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM KJUS PGOV CH
SUBJECT: Guangzhou -- A Hub for the Illegal Drug Trade
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In an unusually candid late July meeting, senior
provincial and municipal anti-drug officers briefed Poloff on the
rising tide of drug trafficking in Guangdong Province. Centered on
Guangzhou, growing numbers of foreign drug dealers and traffickers
-- many from Africa and the Middle East -- are using the city's
developed transportation and logistics networks to import narcotics
and distribute them to other parts of China. Traffickers enjoy a
linguistic advantage and employ various techniques to elude
investigators. Chinese anti-drug forces continue to look abroad for
ways to improve intelligence collection and training. END SUMMARY
Guangdong: A Place for Drugs
2. (SBU) Yang Jiang Hua, Director General of the Narcotics Control
Bureau, Guangdong Public Security Department (PSD), and Cui Ran,
Department Chief of the Drug Crimes Investigation Division of the
Guangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB), told Poloff that Guangdong
province is home to one-seventh of China's users of illegal drugs.
Official estimates for the province put the number at 100,000
people. Approximately half are local residents, and the rest are
migrant workers from the province's "floating population."
The Business of Drugs
3. (SBU) Both Yang and Cui asserted that most of the province's drug
dealers come from Africa and the Middle East and that the number of
foreigners involved in the drug trade here doubled last year. (NOTE:
Yang and Cui could not recall any recent arrests of U.S. citizens
for drug trafficking in Guangdong province. END NOTE.) These
traffickers commonly purchase heroin from the Golden Crescent or
from South-East Asia, then transfer the drugs via Thailand to Hong
Kong, Macau and Guangzhou. The two officials described the most
popular methods of transporting narcotics into China as the
-- "Bodypacking;" where individuals ("mules") swallow drugs packaged
in balloons or condoms, which are then evacuated from the body after
arriving in China. An extreme example of this was the 1,600 grams
(more than three and a half pounds) of drugs swallowed by one
African man. The officials noted that at least one Nigerian had died
from an overdose after one of the packets he had swallowed ruptured.
In an attempt to lower the profile of their drug mules, traffickers
in Guangdong are now hiring female travelers from the Philippines
and Thailand to do the work.
-- Smuggling in the luggage of travelers, particularly individuals
on "business" or "vacation" travel.
-- Mailing parcels through the international postal system. For
example, one group of traffickers mailed narcotics from Dubai to
Guangzhou, where an accomplice hired a local Chinese girl to receive
4. (SBU) Yang and Cui said that foreign traders of illegal drugs in
Guangzhou enjoy a linguistic advantage in avoiding detection. Local
and provincial police are often thwarted by the traffickers' use of
African tribal languages, such as Ibo, for which the Guangdong PSD
does not have translators or interpreters. In addition, the two
officials noted that because business is conducted primarily with
fellow Africans or Middle Easterners, it is difficult for ethnic
Chinese officials to penetrate these groups.
5. (SBU) Organizational models used by the traffickers also pose a
challenge for police. For example, the smuggling, processing, and
distribution aspects of the business are each handled by discreet
cells. This compartmentalization affords additional protection to
the traffickers and dealers, since those who are arrested and
interrogated only have limited knowledge of the overall operation.
6. (SBU) Yang predicted that drug traffickers would increasingly
exploit Guangzhou's well-developed transportation system and
historical status as a nexus for international and domestic trade to
transport large quantities of narcotics.
Not Everything Comes from Abroad
7. (SBU) In addition, Yang and Cui told Poloff that
domestically-produced drugs are also present in Guangdong Province.
Guangzhou reportedly produces a significant quantity of the
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methamphetamine "Ice," which traffickers from the Middle East and
Iran smuggle to other countries and to other parts of China. The
officials also said Ephedrine was produced in Guangdong and many
other places in China.
Close International Cooperation
8. (SBU) Under the direction of the Ministry of Public Security in
Beijing, the Guangdong Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has worked
closely with counterparts from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Macau,
Thailand and the United States. This cooperation has taken various
forms, including training, joint law enforcement operations, and
intelligence sharing. Yang highlighted the importance of
intelligence sharing in anti-narcotics work. He cited the "0303A"
case, in which police in Guangzhou and Canada -- assisted by the
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Panamanian authorities --
arrested a total of ten suspects and seized 25 kilograms of cocaine
in January 2007. According to Yang, DEA, which provided accurate
intelligence and professional guidance during the case, deserved
most of the credit for the operation's success.
"I would rather work with the United States"
9. (SBU) Both Guangdong and Guangzhou NCBs praised the efficiency
and professionalism of DEA agents. Yang pointed out that the
Guangdong NCB received five pieces of useful information from the
United States in 2006 that led to successful operations in the
province. Also, in late 2006, DEA agents traveled to Guangdong and
participated in a joint operation to crack a "big drug case."
10. (SBU) In contrast with the practical work style of U.S.
officials, Cui complained that it is much harder to work with
Canadian counterparts. He commented that the Canadian government was
slow to provide assistance when its citizens were involved in drug
crimes. Attributing this reluctance to Canada's official opposition
to the death penalty, Cui said he regards citizen-protection
policies as the biggest barrier to international anti-narcotics
Structure of the Guangdong Narcotics Control Bureau
11. (SBU) Founded in August 2005, the Guangdong NCB falls under the
Public Security Department and consists of four main sections --
Administrative, Intelligence, Investigations, and Drug
Rehabilitation. While the Guangdong NCB exercises jurisdiction over
relatively few cases (perhaps one or two a year), it supplies human
resources and technical support, information and intelligence
support, and interagency coordination to its subordinated NCBs at
the municipal level. It also provides training for anti-narcotics
police officers from 21 cities in Guangdong Province.
12. (SBU) As the logistics industry develops, the Guangdong NCB is
keeping a closer eye on emerging cross-border drug trafficking
techniques. The need for better actionable intelligence has already
spurred plans for more investment in the agency's anti-narcotics
information gathering apparatus and staff training. Director
General Yang affirmed his commitment to strengthening the
anti-narcotics campaign in Guangdong and working more closely with
foreign counterparts under the leadership of China's Ministry of
Public Security. He re-emphasized that China takes drug crimes
seriously, and suggested that increased dialogue would be key to the
success of future international cooperation.
13. (U) The DEA representative in Beijing and RSO Guangzhou have
reviewed this cable.