Criminal cases involving dangerous “dappo” quasi-legal drugs surged to 128 in the first half of the year, up 151 percent from the previous year, the National Police Agency said.
The number of people charged in the cases came to 145, up by 79, or 120 percent.
The six-month total already exceeds the 125 cases reported in all of 2013 and is the highest since comparable data became available in 2008, the NPA said Friday.
The NPA credited the jump in arrests to the revised pharmaceutical law that took effect in April. The revision bolstered the measures that can be taken against “dappo” (loophole) drugs, so named because of their ability to circumvent the law simply by varying the ingredients.
Of the 145 people arrested or handed over to prosecutors, 52 were charged with breaking the law, up 36 from the year before. Of them, 28 were charged with possession and two with use.
A total of 29 people were charged for selling or producing such drugs.
The revised law bans not only production and sales, but also use and possession of designated drugs.
The NPA said that first offenders accounted for 80 percent of those charged, with 62 percent buying the drugs at retail outlets and 20 percent online.
The NPA also said that 54 people were injured or killed during traffic accidents caused by people taking dangerous drugs — up 26 cases, or 48 percent, and the highest figure ever.
Dappo drugs are cheaper and easier to buy than stimulants or marijuana, and their wide availability may have expanded the number of abusers, an NPA official said.