Drug Combat: Olympics-Beijing co-opts cabbies into war on drugs

Drug Combat: Olympics-Beijing co-opts cabbies into war on drugs

By Reuters

Beijing: To act as paid informers in the fight to create a “drug-free" environment ahead of next year’s Olympic Games, Beijing called on its army of taxi-drivers, state media reported on 6 December.

Authorities sent text messages to some 150,000 cab-drivers encouraging them to become anti-drug volunteers and provide tip-offs to police in exchange for cash, the China Daily said.

“Taxi drivers are in frequent contact with various entertainment outlets, so their involvement will not only help spread the anti-drug message but also provide clues for hunting down drug smugglers," the paper quoted Zhao Wenzhong, head of the city’s anti-narcotics bureau, as saying.

Taxi drivers who offered vital clues in drug cases would be rewarded at least 2,000 yuan ($270), according to an accord between police and the local taxi bureau, added the Xinhua news agency

“Authorities had begun handing out anti-drug literature to taxi drivers, and hoped to equip the city’s entire fleet of 67,000 cabs with the materials" Xinhua said.

Since kicking off a recruitment drive for anti-drug volunteers in 2006, Beijing had registered 14,485 people “from all walks of life" working in 30 teams, covering almost every residential area in the city, Xinhua said.

Police told the China Daily that drug smuggler arrests had increased 38% this year compared to last year, and drug confiscations had risen 45%.