County official's overdose shines spotlight on Hunan drug abuse
Published: May 11, 2020 12:20 AM Updated: May 11, 2020 01:59 AM

Opium poppies File Photo: VCG

A county official in Central China's Hunan Province died of a drug overdose along with nine others, adding another drug-related fatality to the province's growing drug abuse problem among public officials. 

The 40-year-old official was a deputy curator at a cultural center in Qidong county in Hengyang, local media reported Saturday. The victim died after a night of drinking and consuming drugs with others on May 2. So far, nine suspects are in police custody. 

A local discipline watchdog has launched an investigation into the officials connected to the incident. Their specific posts are unknown.  

The news has received online public attention. Netizens have urged authorities to reveal the relevant information of the officials who were involved and trace the source of the drugs. 

This is not the first incident in Qidong county involving public officials and illegal drugs. In three years, the county has punished 111 public officials for drug abuse, according to The Beijing News. 

Other cities in Hunan, such as Changsha, Hengyang, and Xiangtan, have also reported drug abuse among public officials. 

In 2016, a public official in Wugang was found planting 957 poppies in his garden. The mayor of Linxiang, who was caught using illegal drugs, was sentenced to seven years for abuse of power and bribery after an investigation in 2017. 

To address the drug problem among public officials, cities in Hunan have issued measures to punish violators. City government of Hengyang recently passed a regulation that said public officials who take illegal drugs would be demoted or dismissed. 

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