A man from eastern China’s Shandong province is accused of using his role as a livestreamer to cover up his drug-trafficking operation, Procuratorate Daily, the official newspaper of China’s judiciary, reported Thursday based on information released by the public prosecutor.
In just one year, the suspect, Liu Feng — a pseudonym — allegedly built a drug network covering more than half of China, and led prosecutors in the city of Weifang, Shandong, to 48 suspects across 17 province-level areas. Together, the ring is accused of trafficking more than 3,500 grams of methamphetamine. Liu was charged with drug trafficking on May 11, but the case could take months before it goes to court.
According to the report, Liu first tried crystal meth, or ice, out of curiosity in April 2016 after he saw a live video of someone else using. Soon he was addicted and began selling drugs to feed his own habit, the report says. He allegedly received and sent packages all over the country, marked as personal electronics such as headphones and shavers.
Prosecutors believe Liu concealed drugs within common household items to avoid getting caught, and when staff at the express delivery station questioned him about the number of shipments, he said he was interacting with his fans on livestreaming platforms. According to Procuratorate Daily, Liu would also broadcast live videos of himself taking drugs, though the report did not name the platform he used.
Liu allegedly used a pseudonym when sending parcels and changed his number several times to conduct transactions on WeChat and QQ — China’s popular messaging apps — under false identities. Police investigators found that Liu had used 12 mobile phone numbers, 7 numbers on QQ, and 3 WeChat accounts.
For each gram, Liu reportedly earned around 100 yuan ($16) and had made a total profit of about 30,000 yuan.
Liu never had a particularly large fan base: Though he started hosting a channel in 2016, just as livestreaming began to take off in China, his follower count has hovered around 500, according to the report. Authorities have gradually strengthen supervision over livestreaming since 2016.
The judicial newspaper’s report added that Liu had never had a stable job since he graduated from middle school, but had drifted around trying his hand at various businesses, including managing a disco and selling medication.
Editor: Qian Jinghua.
(Header image: 500px Core RF/VCG)