Chinese Authorities Drug Tested and Detained A Group of American and British Ravers in Shenzhen

Around 50 foreigners are reportedly being held in China after police raided a rave near an Ikea.

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Feb 24 2016, 7:20pm

Photo reportedly of the raid. Photo from social media/unknown source

Chinese authorities detained over 400 people at a rave in a tunnel near an Ikea store in the southeastern city of Shenzhen over the weekend.

Police raided a rave that was being held in a public tunnel next to an Ikea in the Nanshan District of Shenzhen in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to the Shenzhen Daily news. The Guardian reported that witnesses saw about 300 ravers carted off on buses and taken away for drug testing. Among the group were tourists, including at least six Britons, as well as Americans.

Xinhua, China's official news agency, reported that the figure was higher, and that 491 people were investigated in connection with the raid, of which over 100 had tested positive for drugs. Reports said 93 people are still in custody, of which around 50 are believed to be foreign nationals.

One of the revelers taken for drug testing, an unnamed American, told the Shenzhen Daily: "They made sure it was my pee, by literally looking at me do it." The man said he was released by police after the results of the drug test came back negative.

A spokesperson for the UK's Foreign Office told THUMP: "We are currently providing consular support to a group of British Nationals detained in Shenzhen on 22 February 2016."

The US State Department was unable to confirm with THUMP the number of Americans detained. A spokesperson said: "We are aware of reports that US citizens were among those held by police after a party in Shenzhen's Nanshan district. The Department of State takes its obligation to assist US citizens abroad seriously. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance."

The rave was thrown by local promoters, The Real Deal, and appeared to be the fourth year the promoters held an event at the tunnel. The event's website description said it was slated to run from 10pm until 7am the next day, "starting with house music and slowly progressing towards techno to keep us going until sunrise." The promoters had booked Frankie Lam, a Hong Kong-based DJ, to headline the night.

Flier for the rave. Courtesy of event page

Both the US State Department and the UK's Foreign Office's official travel advice warns tourists of China's strict drug laws. The US State Department's travel advice on drug-related penalties in China is that all visitors, including US nationals, are subject to Chinese law. "If you violate Chinese laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Chinese law enforcement authorities have little tolerance for illegal drugs. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in China are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, or possibly the death penalty."

The UK foreign office details that Chinese authorities are known to undertake drug testing on foreign nationals. "If a foreign national tests positive, the Chinese authorities can prosecute regardless of where or when the drugs had been consumed. There are extremely severe penalties for drugs offences, including the death penalty."

Commenting on a Reddit thread about news of the raid, one Redditor said: "China is facing a serious drug problem and the government is trying to clamp down on the incredible volume of drugs produced in, exported from and transiting through the country."

According to the US Justice Department, China is a source of the essential chemicals needed in the production of drugs like MDMA. The BBC also reported that China is facing a sharp increase in the trade of ketamine, centered around the tiny village of Boshe, in Guangdong—the same province as Shenzhen.