Sun, Jul 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Prosecutor shares drug strategy

Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office Chief Prosecutor Wang Tien-sheng said in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporter Lin Ching-chuan that the office is initiating measures against drug trafficking that combine the resources of six different drug-enforcement systems, while focusing on eight major centers of activity nationwide

Police inspect a night club in Taipei early yesterday morning to look for drugs as part of a summer vacation anti-drug campaign.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): How is the Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office combining different systems in the execution of its drug enforcement efforts?

Wang Tien-sheng (王添盛): The Executive Yuan gave the office the task of combining the drug enforcement systems used by prosecutors, the police, investigators, the Coast Guard Administration, the military police and the Customs Administration.

However, after we looked at it, we realized that implementation on a nationwide scale would make it difficult to maintain secrecy. Because of this and other problems we encountered, we decided to focus our efforts on key regions, cooperating with regional prosecutors’ offices.

The advantage of this approach is that on a regional level conditions between different areas are similar, so we can employ the same drug enforcement methods in each area. Local branches of the Taiwan High Court have established drug enforcement offices to facilitate cooperation, with the office overseeing operations.

In the event of an active operation, the chief prosecutors of the regional branches of the High Court would invite the chief prosecutors and prosecutors of the local district courts, as well as other members of local law enforcement, to form a task force and coordinate efforts.

Additionally, the office regularly looks at drug seizures, supply and demand of drugs, and the attributes of drug users to analyze and discuss the state of drug abuse in the nation.

The office will also tackle the sale of drugs and drug abuse within the military, in rural communities and on school campuses, coordinating efforts on these fronts to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.

LT: What is the state of drug abuse among young people?

Wang: Illegal drugs that are most often used by young people include amphetamines, ketamine and other Class 3 and Class 4 narcotics, as well as newer designer drugs. These drugs are popular among young people largely because they are cheap and frequently encountered. Class 1 and 2 narcotics are much harder to get and are much more expensive, so they are not frequently used by young people.

When young people are involved in illegal drugs they can face both criminal and administrative charges. This year, from January to May, 134 cases were brought against minors for drug-related offenses, most involving Class 3 drugs. From January to March a total of 81 minors received administrative penalties for use or possession of less than 20g of Class 3 or Class 4 drugs, down from 161 minors over the same period last year.

LT: Some say that the actual number of young people using drugs far exceeds official numbers. Could this be true? If so, how can we find the so-called “dark figures” of the drug world?

Wang: Possession or using less than 20g of category 3 or 4 drugs is not considered a criminal offense by law, and since it is not considered a crime, it would not be included in the statistics for criminal activity.

Granted, there are academics who are of the opinion that a lack of such information means that the actual situation of young people using drugs in the nation is not adequately reflected. To assuage such doubts, the office established the National Drug Archive to help identify the “dark figures” of the drug world.

LT: How does drug enforcement help nip the drug problem in the bud?

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