'Breaking Bad' in real life? China chemistry professor held over drug ties

Beakers are seen in a science laboratory. (Photo by Eliseo Miciu/Gallery Stock)
Beakers are seen in a science laboratory.

BEIJING, China — A former chemistry professor was arrested for allegedly helping a gang manufacture drugs, according to police and Chinese media, in a case with striking parallels to the hit show "Breaking Bad."

The ex-academic is accused of linking up with a drug ring and providing "recipes for producing methcathinone" — a synthetic drug similar to methamphetamine, according to the reports.

Shaánxi Television identified the suspect as Professor Lu Yong, citing a local anti-drug detective, who told the station the suspect was arrested in a family apartment in Xian.

"He not only provided the recipes but also took part in selling the drugs," the detective added.

The channel showed pictures of the suspect behind bars, covering his face with his hands, and images of what police said were drug-manufacturing equipment and ingredients.

Professor Lu is accused by police of working alongside a drug gang leader named Chen in May 2013. Chen allegedly setting up operations in Suiyuan County to sell more than 1,980 pounds of the drug in Shangai and other Chinese cities.

A police officer in Suiyuan County confirmed the authenticity of the media reports to NBC News. However, an anti-drug officer added: "It's not convenient to make further comments."

Lu's case has prompted a flurry of online comments comparing the suspect to the character of Walter White on "Breaking Bad," a professor who sold crystal meth.

"He must have watched Breaking Bad and learned from Walter White how to make money," wrote one user of a local online forum in Xián.

"The high IQ criminals are most dangerous," said another on China's Weibo social media network. "You must have watched too many American TV shows," quipped another.

China is in the midst of a nationwide "100 city" campaign against drugs that saw 60,000 suspects arrested last year. State media reports that China has some 14 million drug users — about one percent of the population — with the number of those addicted to synthetic drugs increasing by 36 percent annually.

This story originally appeared on NBC News