I’m including this newspaper article to later follow up with my own experiences concerning drug-related issues in the south. I also include it because I am currently watching Breaking Bad (a US TV series) and have seen the very disturbing Brazilian movie, City of God, both of which were referred to in the article.
Be looking for my next two eye-opening entries after reading the below.
January 7, 2014: From the UK’s The Telegraph, “Inside China’s ‘Breaking Bad’ village” by Tom Phillips
Boshe, Guagdong province, CHINA — A smashed lock and a scuffed red doormat reading, “Stay safe!” adorn the entrance to the unusually opulent three-story villa.
It was here that Cai Dongjia, surrounded by expensive redwood furniture and gaudy faux Corinthian columns, ruled as Communist Party chief of Boshe, a farming community in China’s southern Guangdong province that has existed since at least the 13th century.
Yet in an extraordinary reversal of fortune, 51-year-old Mr. Cai was unmasked last week as one of the most wanted drug capos in the People’s Republic: a crystal meth mafioso who allegedly corrupted young and old in his attempt to make a fortune from drugs.
Mr. Cai’s kingdom began to crumble at just after dawn on Dec 29 when about 3,000 heavily armed operatives swept into Boshe’s dust-swept alleyways with support from helicopters, speedboats and canine units.
During an operation that was reported only last Friday, police claim to have closed 77 clandestine meth laboratories, seized three tons of methamphetamine worth an estimated $250-million and made 182 arrests, including Mr. Cai and 13 other Communist Party officials.
Methamphetamine or crystal meth is now the second most used drug in China after heroin.
Major anti-drug operations are nothing new, but the scale of the accusations against Mr Cai and his fellow villagers were staggering.
Chinese police labeled Boshe (population 14,000) “China’s number one drug village” and claimed it had provided a third of the country’s total meth supply.
Twenty per cent of villagers – among them pensioners, housewives and children – had been involved in the drug trade in some way, according to Qiu Wei, a senior anti-narcotics officer.
Mr. Cai was the “back stage boss” of a massive criminal network engaged in “drug making and selling, suspected corruption, abuse of power [and] dereliction of duty”, Xinhua, China’s official news agency, claimed.
When Boshe’s secret leaked out on Friday it immediately drew comparisons to Breaking Bad, the television series that charts the improbable descent of Walter White, a school chemistry teacher, into a life of meth cooking and gangsterism.
But local reports suggest a better comparison might be City of God, a Brazilian film that accompanied increasingly youthful drug traffickers as they used weapons, bribes and violence to seize control of a Rio slum.
For in recent years Boshe had become a “fortress” that was effectively off limits to outsiders, police claimed. Lookouts warned local criminals of suspect activity around the village and gang members used “machine guns and hand grenades” to intimidate their enemies.
A local journalist who visited the village in 2012 reported being cautioned against photographing the luxury cars parked outside a growing number of houses.
Police vehicles were used to transport drugs in and out of the village, giving the gang “an almost cast-iron guarantee of protection”, the China Daily newspaper reported yesterday. Even local children were lured into the trade, it was claimed, spending their school holidays pulling apart prescription cough medicine capsules, the contents of which were used to produce the meth.
As Boshe’s meth racket expanded, the mounds of drug-related debris being dumped on its streets and fields grew ever higher, irreparably contaminating the village’s soil and river. The legacy of that period of lawlessness could be seen on Boshe’s rubbish-strewn streets this week.
Not a soul dared to speak openly about Cai Dongjia’s arrest or the plight of the 13 other government officials or policemen in custody because of the scandal.
Asked about the recent events, house-owners, shopkeepers and government officials were united in their amnesia. “I don’t know,” said one. “I can’t remember,” claimed another.
“I really can’t talk. If I said anything, I might be hanged,” admitted a third, whispering that at least one local person had been mysteriously found dead following the recent operation.
Police had plastered many of the community’s walls with A3 posters declaring drugs “the source of all evil” and calling on traffickers to turn themselves in by Feb 15. But in many places the posters had already been torn down or defaced.
While local newspapers claimed that 400 officers had been deployed to keep order in Boshe’s winding back alleys, in fact there was hardly a policeman to be seen this week.
A 20-year-old man who appeared to be trailing reporters on a moped rejected the charges against Mr. Cai and said claims that 20% of villagers had reinvented themselves as basement chemists were an exaggeration. “The party chief is not the kind of person the media is reporting,” he said, blaming the accusations on political enemies.
Yet the suspiciously large number of luxurious villas in this largely squalid seaside village suggested something was seriously amiss.
Stray dogs and unwashed toddlers could be seen wandering many of the shanty’s filthy backstreets and raw sewage ran under many of Boshe’s elegant but dilapidated Cantonese-style homes.
But the neighbourhood around Mr. Cai’s former home was from another world. CCTV cameras sprouted from the exteriors of sumptuous three and four-storey villas. House facades glistened with gold paint. Metal bars sealed spacious verandas from the outside world. A new BMW sat outside one address.
“The houses around here are really nice and luxurious,” said a 68-year-old visitor from Sichuan province who gave his name as Mr. Wu.
“You don’t see that much in rural areas. I guess it is the result of the [economic] opening up.”
Last month, Xi Jinping, China’s president, banned government officials from smoking in public in an attempt to clean up the Communist Party reputation.
But on Monday Cai Shuibao, the interim party chief who has been sent to Boshe following his namesake’s downfall, appeared in no mood to surrender his drug of choice.
He puffed furiously on Chinese cigarettes as reporters pressed him to discuss the allegations against his predecessor or show them to one of his village’s former drugs factories.
“I have only been here three days,” Mr. Cai said. “I know nothing, nothing.”
Visibly angry, the new party chief of China’s “number one drug village” turned away and stalked back towards the shelter of Cai Dongjia’s former office, past a newly erected propaganda billboard. “Good manners, discipline and hard work will get you ahead,” it read.