Wed, May 10, 2017 - Page 3 News List

DPP mulls bill to seize assets of drug suspects

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus is considering legislation that would allow authorities to seize the assets of suspected drug dealers to cut off funding for drug trafficking and help the nation in its war on drugs.

DPP Legislator Chiang Yung-chang (江永昌) is to propose an amendment to the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例) that would allow prosecutors to confiscate illegal sources of income of suspected drug dealers to cut off financial flows to drug syndicates.

At present, law enforcement officials cannot seize the assets of suspected drug dealers unless the items are proven to be illegal.

The amendment would allow prosecutors to impound suspected illegal gains unless the owner can prove they have not been obtained illegally, Chiang said.

The amendment hews to the spirit of newly enacted amendments to the Money Laundering Control Act (洗錢防制法), which authorize prosecutors to confiscate suspected illegal assets of people facing money-laundering charges, Chiang added.

There were 34,492 crimes reported last year, and about one-third were drug-related offenses, DPP Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) said, adding that the ratio is likely to remain the same this year.

“The use of prohibited substances is rampant in the country. The time has come to declare war on drugs,” Tsai said.

With the proposed amendment, prosecutors can probe people and companies linked to drug suspects and seize suspicious assets, Tsai said.

Drug use is high among teenagers and high-school students, and stricter regulations and law enforcement are needed to prevent drug abuse, DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said.

Ketamine, a prohibited substance commonly abused by high-school students, is a category 3 narcotic, the use and possession of which is punishable by lenient sentences, with the court often acquitting people found to possess 20g of ketamine, Wang said.

Wang said he would seek to adjust the categorization of ketamine to make it a category 2 drug, the use of which is a heavier crime.

Alternatively, penalties may be raised for the possession of even a slight amount of ketamine, he said.

The amendment would also seek to raise penalties for those selling drugs to teenagers or students, Wang added.

“It is our generation’s fault if children and teenagers continue to be exposed to drugs. We have to take responsibility and solve the drug problem,” he said.

Wang added that the DPP would not accept the idea of decriminalizing drugs, which was proposed during the National Congress on Judicial Reform last month.

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