How a massive meth bust in China is tied to traditional medicine

How a massive meth bust in China is tied to traditional medicine

By Heather Timmons and Gang Yang 5 hours ago

Police in Southern China seized 3 tonnes (more than 6,600 lbs) of methamphetamine in a drug raid this week in a small village in Guangdong, and arrested 182 people in connection with the raid, including a local former Communist Party chief.Boshe, population 14,000, is one of China’s biggest methamphetamine manufacturing centers, police said, and more than one-fifth of the village’s households are directly involved or had a stake in the drugs production. (There’s avery complete run-down of the raid on Tea Leaf Nation.) Since July 30, 2013,Guangdong police have arrested over 10,000 suspected drug traffickers and seized more than 8 metric tonnes of drugs, Guo Shaobo, deputy director of the provincial public security bureau, told the People’s Daily newspaper.

While heroin remains the most-used illegal drug in China, synthetic drugs, including ketamine and methamphetamine, are a fast-growing second—China’s National Narcotics Control Commission reported a 44% increase in “registered” synthetic drug users in 2012, at 212,000. They made up 69% of all of China’s new drug users in 2012. Seizures of methamphetamine pills in particularly have risen sharply in recent years:

But why this small village? Boshe and the surrounding city of Lufeng are also a major distribution center for Ma Huang, a herb commonly used in Chinese medicine to alleviate wheezing, coughs and congestion, according to a report (in Chinese and with great pictures) in the Southern Metropolis Daily. Ma Huang is also known as Ephedra Sinica, a plant traditionally cultivated in arid northwestern China, which is a natural source of ephedrine, a key ingredient in methamphetamine and also in Western medicines for asthma, among other ailments.

As recently at 2008, local governments were encouraging farmers (link in Chinese) to grow the crop, promising return on investment rates above 60%, but last May the government introduced strict new rules about its growth, sale and purchase aimed at curbing methamphetamine production. Still, Ephedra comes into the Lufeng area by the truckload, pictures in the Southern Metropolis Daily seem to show.

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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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