by A. Yu
567kg of cocaine worth HK$6 00million was seized from a village home in Tuen Mun, in what is believed to be Hong Kong’s largest drug bust.
Working on a tip, officers raided what they now believe to be the storehouse of a transnational drug trafficking syndicate on September 16. Four other locations were also raided, with 50kg seized at residential units in Kwai Tsing and Mong Kok.
Five Mexican nationals, an American man as well as a Chinese man and his Columbian wife carrying Hong Kong residency were arrested in connection with the case.
The drugs were stored in empty plastic automatic transmission fluid containers intended for recycling. Cocaine bricks were wrapped with plastic tape or cling film, then stored in the container through a cut at the bottom. A total of 1,241 containers were found.
Police believe that the warehouse located in Fuk Hang Tsuen, Tuen Mun, had been used as a packing and storage facility for over six months.
“Traffickers have used different ways to disguise their dealings, but this is the first time police have seen recycled materials used,” John Paul Ribeiro, chief superintendent of the narcotics bureau of Hong Kong said to the South China Morning Post.
“We believe we have successfully neutralized the multinational syndicate,” Ribeiro said.
Ribeiro also believes that a small part of the shipment was intended for the Hong Kong market but that he couldn’t ‘rule out [that] the drug would be sold to mainland [China] and other countries.’
Professor Karen Joe A. Laidler of the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong stated in a report for the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute that ‘most of the cocaine coming into Hong Kong is by use of air couriers using body packs and by postal packages’.
Professor Laidler also indicated that cocaine was more commonly associated with Hong Kong’s expat community and is unpopular in Hong Kong due to it’s high price, and thought that the drugs seized may be have intended for further shipment into Southeast Asia.
Dr. Alfred Mak, former executive director of the Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abuse (SARDA) in Hong Kong was surprised by the bust. He agreed that the drugs would have probably gone on to other countries.
“There is a good chance that HK is not the final destination for the distribution of
the drug load in the present case,” Dr Mak says. “Although cocaine use has been reported to have risen gradually in recent years, the increase, and the total consumption [in Hong Kong], is still small.”
Dr. Mak says that the bust would make a significant dent in Southeast Asia’s cocaine market, but he says it’s too soon to officially label Hong Kong has a drug hub.
“Being a free port standing at the door of mainland China, [Hong Kong] is always a coveted bridgehead for international drug smugglers,” said Dr. Mak. “Whether there is a change of drug tactics by shifting its target to Asia is too soon to be concluded. The haul at issue is big enough to trigger concerns from international enforcement authorities, particularly those in China, Hong Kong and nearby countries.”