Authorities apprehended suspects involved in eight drug rings in Greater Taichung on Wednesday. The suspects were allegedly using drugs to manipulate young people, one as young as 14, an officer said.
Nearly 60 people were arrested in raids at more than 100 locations carried out by the Taichung District Prosecutors Office, Taichung police, military police and the Coast Guard Administration, the Prosecutors’ Office said.
Nine of those arrested remain in custody, among them two men surnamed Hsiao (蕭) and Lu (呂), who were reportedly operating a phony modeling agency, the office said.
The two were allegedly recruiting young women, getting them hooked on drugs, then forcing them to work at nightclubs or as prostitutes.
Investigators also detained six underage suspects who were allegedly supplying drugs to drug dealers or users. The suspects will be handed over to the juvenile court, the office said.
Initial findings suggest that 60 people were involved in the drug rings, and of that number 30 were under 18, Taichung Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) said.
Tsai said 21 of the under-18 victims were students from 10 junior or senior-high schools around the city, but six of them had dropped out of school.
Drug abuse in schools is becoming a rampant problem in Taichung, he said.
Chung Ai-hua (鍾愛華), the secretary-general of the city’s Education Bureau, said drugs infiltrated campuses through dealers approaching students at nearby video game parlors.
The education bureau will ask local police to step up patrol of arcades as part of the city’s efforts to crack down on drugs, he said.