A descriptive analysis of the illicit supply of new psychoactive substances within and from China
Background: Although China has played an important role in the emergence and the expansion of new psychoactive substances (NPS) worldwide, little research has specifically focused on the illicit supply of NPS within and from China.
Methods: Closed criminal cases of NPS illicit supply (manufacturing, distribution, trafficking, transporting and smuggling) from the past five years (2012-2017) in China have been collected in an official database, China Judgement Online. Three groups of NPS were emphasized, including ketamine, synthetic cathinone, and fentanyl analogs. Chi-squared tests and one-way ANOVA tests were conducted to measure the statistical differences between the different types of offenses.
Results: The sample consisted of 341 major cases concerning the illicit supply of three types of NPS (ketamine, cathinones, and fentanyls) and five groups of offenders, including manufacturers, distributors, high level retailers, transporters, and manufacturer-retailers. Significant differences between the five offender groups in terms of their profiles, behaviors, and supply patterns were observed.
Conclusion: Our results suggest the existence of a dynamic and complex supply network within and from China, and further suggest several implications for policy makers, law enforcement agencies, and academics.