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June 23, 2017

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Firefighter based in Pingtung suspected of using drugs

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The police recently busted a gang of suspects engaged in drug trafficking and accidentally discovered that a firefighter from the Pingtung County Fire Bureau had made purchases from the gang multiple times.

Acting on tips received in May, police from Pingtung's Hengchun Township recently conducted a criminal investigation and searches in the area, and on Aug. 27 arrested 10 people suspected of drug trafficking, also seizing a large quantity of amphetamine and ketamine.

Further investigation by police revealed that a firefighter surnamed Zhang from Pingtung County Fire Bureau had made multiple purchases from the group.

The police summoned Zhang for questioning and to conduct a urine test on Aug. 28. Zhang tested positive, but he argued that his results were a byproduct of taking cold medicine.

If the evidence points to Zhang taking drugs, he will be ordered to overcome his addiction on suspension. His job will be safe during this period, but he will not receive any allowance. If Zhang is found guilty of criminal offenses, however, he will be removed from duty, said the Fire Bureau.

Nevertheless, this punishment did not satisfy Pingtung County Councilor Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑), who pointed out that it is ridiculous for the bureau to allow a drug suspect to serve in firefighting missions. Liang requested that Zhang be transferred to another department immediately. As of yesterday, Zhang has been transferred out of the fire department.

In fact, Zhang was found to be using drugs in 2007 while serving in Taoyuan's fire department. He was later dispatched to the fire department in Pingtung in 2008 and has been serving there since.

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