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China arrests drug dealers from Pakistan, Afghanistan

world Updated: Jan 29, 2009 18:56 IST

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Chinese police have arrested 16 foreign drug smugglers, mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan in the border region of Xinjiang last year and seized nearly 100 kgs of the contraband some of which were smuggled into the country inside woolen carpets.

Police in the remote northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region arrested 16 foreign drug dealers in 2008 as drug trafficking from the 'Golden Crescent' has emerged as a growing threat to China, police said.

Xinjiang police cracked 25 drug trafficking cases involving 95.74 kg of heroin from the Golden Crescent region last year, nearly double the number of such cases in the previous year, Jin Peng, head of the drug control brigade of the Xinjiang regional department of public security, said.

The seized drugs from the Golden Crescent accounted for two-thirds of all the drugs confiscated in the region, Jin was quoted as saying on Thursday by the official Xinhua news agency.

Most of the seized foreign drug dealers were from the bordering areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he added.

Heroin has been hidden in very fine plastic tubes woven into wool carpets and shipped into China. On March 18, Xinjiang police seized 47.8 kg of heroin hidden in carpets in a single case at the Urumqi airport.

The Golden Crescent encompasses Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, whose mountain peripheries define the crescent. The region has emerged as one of the world's two biggest sources of opium, which, for several years, even surpassed the infamous Golden Triangle comprising Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Xinjiang, with many entry points bordering the Golden Crescent, has been used by international drug dealers as a prime trade route.