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Busted Chinese Ring Responsible for $100 Million in US Drug Traffic - 2003-05-23

Police in China and the United States say the drug ring they recently broke up was moving $100 million worth of illegal drugs into the United States over the past three years. Police arrested 28 people in three countries.

Chinese officials say a global police operation netted at least 36 kilograms of heroin and other drugs.

Police raids started last week in New York City's Chinatown neighborhood and brought in 11 suspects and a portion of the heroin. Elsewhere, Chinese, Hong Kong, and Indian police seized the rest of the suspects and additional drugs.

Officers say the international gang was moving drugs from Burma and Laos, through China's Fujian Province, and into parts of the eastern United States.

Police called the gang "125" because one of the accused kingpin weighs 125 kilograms.

In Beijing, Jimmy Tse of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says the cooperative investigation was unprecedented.

"The operation that the Ministry of Public Security and Fujian Provincial police did last week was outstanding," he said. " It uprooted the entire link of drug traffickers that existed in the source area, in transit countries, and also in distribution points within the United States."

Officials say it is rare for a raid to destroy so many links in a sophisticated, international drug smuggling ring.

China has been a transit route for traffickers for a while, but experts say more Chinese citizens are themselves using heroin. China is now fighting its own war on drugs, arresting tens of thousands of drug suspects last year.