A narcotics control officer said yesterday that minor, or cheaper, drugs have become the major narcotics used in the country, with an increasing number of teenagers and youths becoming addicted.
"Heroin, amphetamines and Ketamine are the three major drugs used in Taiwan, and the use of Ketamine is becoming more widespread in the nation," said Wang Hua-fu (王華富), director of the Narcotics Control Center at the Ministry of Justice's Investigation Bureau.
Wang made the remarks at the two-day International Drug Control Symposium, which concluded yesterday. The event was co-sponsored by the ministry.
Citing statistics from the ministry, Wang said Ketamine has become the number one narcotic among drugs seized in the country in terms of quantity since it was first listed in 2002 as a class-three drug -- also known as a "minor" drug.
Acknowledging that the use of minor drugs was on the increase among teenagers, Wang said youths frequently take class-three drugs like Ketamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and flunitrazepam, which have detrimental effects on health and relationships.
New kinds of banned substances, such as ecstasy pills, flunitrazepam, nimetazepam, zolpidem and surazepam, have been discovered by police during raids on bubble tea houses, KTV parlors, bars and night clubs, Wang said.
There is a rising trend among drug users to take several kinds of illicit drugs at one time to enhance the effect, he said.
Compared with traditional drugs, the emerging synthetic drugs are cheaper and more lucrative because of their low production costs, which increases the potential of them being used by a greater number of people in future, he warned.
The official said that amphetamine use is also on the increase in the nation.
Since China started cracking down on its amphetamine factories in 2002, Taiwanese drug traffickers have smuggled the drug from Southeast Asian countries, he said.
Wang called for more intensive international cooperation to fight drug production and transportation.
Following the discovery recently of a number of amphetamine production factories in the nation, Wang said that enforcement officers were seeing a trend of criminals producing amphetamine domestically rather than smuggling it.
Narcotics control officers and experts from a number of countries around the world were in attendance at the conference yesterday to discuss strategies for the promotion of international cooperation in the fight against drugs.
Participants agreed that only intensive international cooperation could reduce the flow of narcotics.
Sukhum Opasniputh, a division chief under Thailand's Narcotics Control Commission, said the number of international traffickers arrested in Thailand had dropped over the last few years as a result of strong enforcement action, tighter laws and greater regional cooperation.
Eiyoshi One, a Japan Coast Guard division chief in charge of international organized crime, said that as a country surrounded by sea, an intensive coastal patrol had been the major effort launched to crack down on drugs trafficking.
Additional reporting by CNA