Monday was the 30th International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and it saw many in China in reflective mood on the dangers of drug policing after a narcotics officer was fatally shot by a suspect on June 14.
Jiaba Wuge was just 34 when he died in the line of duty in Liangshan Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The tragedy has aroused public concern about the risks of this special occupation, as the criminals they face are often prepared to resort to violence. A lot of people narcotics officers deal with are mentally disturbed.
Ruan Libo used to be such a policeman in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. In 2013, he nearly died after falling into a nine-meter-deep shaft during a drug raid.
"Policemen specializing in drug enforcement or criminal investigation undoubtedly face high risks, but such jobs have to be undertaken by someone," Ruan said.
At least 24 narcotics officers were killed across China in 2013, according to official figures. Ruan said the harsh punishments drug dealers face in the country means they are generally desperate to avoid capture when confronted by police.
In 2016, 446 drug-related raids by officers turned up guns, said a report on drug control released last week.
Working in the anti-drug police squad is considered one of the most dangerous occupations in China. Now these special police officers are facing even greater challenges, as the scope of drug-related crimes has expanded in recent years.
Narcotics officer Li Zhiyong told CGTN that drug criminals are getting younger, including the abusers, producers and traffickers. According to official data, as of the end of 2016, there were 22,000 drug users under the age of 18 in China, and they are turning to newer types of drugs such as methamphetamine.
Easy access to information on the Internet has also not helped. People learn how to make drugs online, make deals there and even take drugs on live-broadcast platforms.
Narcotics squads nationwide are stepping up efforts to tackle the increasingly sophisticated drugs trade. For example, Chengdu's Qingyang Public Security Bureau integrates different police forces to strengthen efficiency. Technology like facial recognition is also applied to capture traffickers.
Meanwhile, authorities have formulated regulations to crack down on Internet drug crime. Experts said that if drug-related crimes can be reduced, so will police casualties.