Customs uncovers prepared opium worth $11.7 million from express cargo
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Hong Kong Customs has uncovered two express cargo drug trafficking cases in which 45 kilogrammes of prepared opium, with a retail value of about $11.7 million, were seized. It is the first time in which prepared opium was found being smuggled from Thailand to the United States using express cargo. In the early morning of September 27, Customs officers from the Airport Command inspected a shipment of five cartons declared as "wooden carving", arriving from Chiangmai, destined for California.
After finding the shipment suspicious from X-ray scanning, Customs officers broke open the "wooden cat" artifacts and found about 29 kilogrammes of prepared opium. Later on the same morning, Customs officers inspected another shipment of three cartons of "Tom-tom Drum" also arriving from Chiangmai, destined for California, at the same express cargo centre. With the help of X-ray scanning, 16 kilogrammes of prepared opium were found inside the outer layers of the drums.
Hong Kong Customs has strengthened enforcement action at all control points in support of the Government's strategy to combat drugs. Customs officers are on high alert at all times to foil attempts by drug traffickers to take advantage of the heavy flow of passengers and cargo at the control points. Customs will continue to make use of advanced technology, intelligence analysis, risk assessment and international co-operation to crack down on drug trafficking activities.
Since July 2009, Customs has detected six drug trafficking cases at the air cargo and express cargo terminals at the airport. The drugs seized, with a total value of $36.3 million, were destined for overseas or the Mainland. They included 196 kilograms of ketamine, 8.2 kilograms of herbal cannabis, 620 grammes of heroin and 45 kilograms of prepared opium.
Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, drug trafficking is a serious offence, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of $5 million.