Taipei, May 17 (CNA) Law enforcement officials busted eight drug rings in Taichung on Wednesday and found that the suspects were allegedly using drugs to manipulate young people, one as young as 14.
Nearly 60 people were arrested in raids at over 100 locationscarried out by the Taichung District Prosecutors Office, Taichungpolice, military police and the Coast Guard Administration, theprosecutors' office said.
Nine of the people arrested remain in detention, among them two men surnamed Hsiao and Lu, who were operating a phony modeling agency, the office said.
Hsiao and Lu were allegedly recruiting young women, getting them hooked on drugs, then forcing them to work at nightclubs or as prostitutes, according to the prosecutors' office.
Investigators also arrested six underage suspects who allegedly were supplying drugs to downstream drug distributors or users. The suspects will be handed over to the juvenile court, the office said.
Initial findings suggest that 60 people fell victim to the drug rings, and of that number, 30 were under the age of 18, according to Taichung Deputy Mayor Tsai Bing-kun.
Tsai said 21 of the under-18 victims were students from 10 junior or senior high schools in the city, but six of them had dropped out of school.
Tsai said drug abuse in schools is becoming a rampant problem in the city. He said 122 people were arrested last year for alleged involvement in drug abuse in schools, and in the period January-April this year, 46 people were arrested.
Chung Ai-hua, secretary-general of the city's Education Bureau, said the city has launched an anti-drug campaign in schools and will look into students' relationships with people outside of schools.
Drug infiltration on campuses is achieved by dealers who approach students at nearby video game arcades, he said.
The education bureau will ask local police to step up patrol of such places as part of the city's efforts to crack down on drugs,Chung added.
(By Chen Ching-ping, Hao Hsueh-chin, Sophia Chen and Jamie Wang)