By Zhang Yan and Zhu Zhe
BEIJING, April 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Gun smugglers are using the Internet and express delivery networks for trafficking arms into China, a police officer said.
Police broke up 69 gun-smuggling rings nationally last year, and smashed 20 gangs, Yan Zhengbin, deputy director at the public security management bureau under the Ministry of Public Security, told China Daily.
Nineteen cases involved fully assembled guns, while the remainder involved gun parts and bullets. Of the 19 cases, 11 used logistics and express delivery networks, according to statistics from the ministry.
One particular case in August serves as an example. Customs at Beijing airport found a package, containing guns and parts, which was sent through the US-based company, United Parcel Service.
The discovery sparked a police investigation and this led to a criminal gang with members in China and the US. The gang had used a delivery network on a number of occasions, according to the ministry.
Yan said most of the firearms came from Southeast Asia and the US, though some did come from Europe and other Asian countries.
Gun smuggling across land border checkpoints is declining, he said but noted that smuggling through delivery networks is rising.
Different legal systems and regulations on gun control between China and some Western countries are partly to blame, Yan said.
"Some countries allow individuals to possess guns, and some others don't strictly apply their gun-control policies," he said.
The Internet also provides a platform for gun smugglers. "Information can be released online," he said.
During a three-month crackdown, launched in August, police intensified website inspections, and closely monitored web pages, online forums and blogs. The crackdown led to the seizure of 2,000 guns and 32,000 bullets, according to the ministry figures.
Yan also highlighted problems regarding checking procedures at domestic delivery companies.
"For example, some private or small logistic companies don't even ask for the real identity and address of the sender."
Police will pay more attention to online activities and keep a closer watch on delivery networks, said Qian Xiongfei, a senior officer from the ministry's firearms and police equipment management department.
A lack of legislation and industry standards is a fundamental problem, said Dai Peng, director of the criminal investigation department at the Chinese People's Public Security University.
"There is no law or regulation in China to clearly specify logistic companies' postal procedures," he said.
Multinational delivery companies should regulate their services and carefully examine mailed articles, Dai said.
"If they conduct business in China they need to perform their duties in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations."
(Source: China Daily)