A two-month-long joint police operation conducted by China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand on the Mekong River led to the arrests of 2,534 suspects and the seizure of roughly nine tons of drugs, the Chinese government said Tuesday.

Authorities also confiscated 38 guns, 1,125 rounds of ammunition, 260 tons of drug-precursor chemicals and some $3.6 million in cash, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing China's counternarcotics chief, Liu Yuejing.

The operation revealed that traffickers were using handicapped, pregnant or elderly people to transport drugs in an attempt to avoid police scrutiny.

After the operation's results were made public on Tuesday, Liu emphasized that China is still facing "many challenges relating to the struggle against drug crimes."

Illegal drugs consumed by the Chinese population mostly come from other countries, including the opium-producing Golden Triangle, which encompasses parts of Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

The Chinese government announced that it will continue cooperating in operations like the recently-concluded one with other countries such as the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada and the European Union, as well as with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

The Mekong River, one of the longest in the world, arises in China, passes through Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and is one of the main commercial routes in Southeast Asia. EFE