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New narcotics rampant despite falling number of deaths

2018/10/17 21:42:35

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) Twenty-eight people died from using new narcotics in the first eight months of this year in Taiwan, a drop in number that reflects anti-drug efforts by the government, authorities said Wednesday.

They warned, however, of the fast spread and penetration of such drugs in local society.

0f the 28 people killed by new narcotics, 22 were men and six were women, with an average age of 30.8 years, according to Tu Ta-jen (涂達人), head of the the Institute of Forensic Medicine under the Ministry of Justice.

Judging from the numbers, Tu said, it is obvious that a campaign launched by the government in July 2017 to clamp down on the use of drugs, mainly focusing on new narcotics, with a budget of NT$10 billion (US$322 million) over a four-year period, has borne fruit.

In 2017, 100 people died from consuming new narcotics, Tu said.

On forensic examination, each body was found to contain 4.6 types of new narcotics on average this year, up from 4.2 last year, he noted, warning that the use of such drugs is rising and expanding fast in Taiwan.

In the past, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine and club drugs such as ketamine and MDMA were the most commonly used illegal drugs, but now substances such as MDPV and mephedrone that contain cathinone -- so-called "bath salts" -- that are packaged in coffee bags or disguised as candies or fruit jellies have made their way into all quarters of life, Tu said.

Illicit drug use is a thorny issue in Taiwan. The mixed use of illegal drugs has become ever-more serious and has taken a heavy toll on users, according to experts.

Statistics compiled by prosecution authorities show that the number of regular drug users in Taiwan has exceeded 60,000, with more than 800 types of liquid narcotics alone available on the street.

In the first half of this year, a total of 68,488 cases involving the use of new narcotics were recorded, a large jump from 45,021 in the first half of 2017, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

As new narcotics now come in such a wide range of guises, it is increasingly difficult for police to crack down on them, the FDA said.

(By Wang Yang-yu and Flor Wang)