Facebook was employed by police in Chaoyang District in a drug investigation that began April 17 and resulted in the detention of five foreign international school students for marijuana use and three foreign drug dealers carrying marijuana, ice, and heroin, The Beijing News reported Friday night
The revelation was part of a bevy of new details that emerged from a police report released Friday detailing an investigation that started when four international school students were caught smoking marijuana in the Beijing Riviera home of two of the suspects April 17.
It is unclear which of the suspects are still in custody, three weeks after the first arrest.
The report indicates police were initially tipped off by an unnamed informant who pointed out the suspects’ Facebook activity to police. Using that as a lead, investigators were able to catch the students in the act at home on the evening of April 17, with a camera crew in tow (video here).
The report names the four students detained in the original raid as being two New Zealanders and two Americans. From previous reports it is known that three of the suspects are 18 years old and the fourth, 17.
Acting on a tip from one of the American students, police then arrested an American dealer referred to as Xiao Wen (小文) in the late evening of April 18 at an unspecified location at Baochao Hutong, where they also confiscated four grams of marijuana.
The new account differs slightly from the Beijing TV (BTV) version of events, which reports that the students’ dealer, identified as Xiao, was found near Nanluoguxiang and was apprehended on the same evening as the April 17 raid.
The Beijing News report states that the police then set up a sting with Xiao Wen in which he called his suppliers to meet him on the evening of April 19 near Anzhenqiao. Two foreign dealers arrived in a taxi and were arrested immediately: a Sierra Leone national identified as Hamm (汉姆) who was carrying 9.25 grams of the drug ice and 1.93 grams of heroin; and a Malian identified as Da Shan (大山), carrying 22.46 grams of Ice.
Police later returned to the international school where the four initial suspects were enrolled and tested four additional students, one of whom, an American, tested positive and was detained.
The report states that all five students detained in the investigation, as well as dealer Xiao Wen, tested positive for marijuana use via urinalysis.
Among the international students, the two Americans, in whose home the four students were caught smoking, are subject to up to three years in jail for providing a venue for drug use. The other three are charged with the use of illegal drugs, punishable by 10 to 15 days detention and fines of up to RMB 2,000.
Among the dealers arrested in the case, Xiao Wen and Hamm are being charged with dealing drugs and Da Shan is being held for possession.
The Beijing News report does not indicate whether the students are still in jail.
When contacted, the school where the students are enrolled declined to comment on the case.
Parents connected to the school, speaking on condition of anonymity, provided conflicting accounts of the current status of the students. Some report that all of the students have been released but their passports withheld, while others indicate some are still being held by police. One parent said the students that have been charged will be allowed to take their final exams, but are not permitted back on campus and will be barred from participating in graduation ceremonies.
The arrests come during an overall crackdown on drug use that has netted several high-profile celebrities in Chaoyang District, including Jackie Chan’s son in 2014. Throughout, police have relied on tips from anonymous informants referred to in the media as “the masses of Beijing’s Chaoyang District” (literally beijing chaoyang qunzhong 北京朝阳群众). This is quickly developing into a meme among Chinese netizens that are joking that the BJCYQZ (the abbreviation of the pinyin Romanization 北京朝阳群众) should be considered the world’s fifth largest intelligence agency after the CIA, the KGB, Mossad, and MI6.
*Note: The English names used in this story are transliterated from the names used in the Chinese report.
Additional reporting by Patrick Li and Aisling O’Brien