August 29, 2023
HONG KONG – Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department on Monday said it has seized 240 kilograms of methamphetamine, worth approximately HK$170 million ($21 million) — the largest drug trafficking case monitored under an international controlled delivery operation on record.
This is also the largest drug trafficking case this year in the city, Customs said.
Fong pointed out that transnational collaborative smuggling is becoming increasingly severe, adding that Hong Kong Customs has established contact with law enforcement agencies
The drugs, which were concealed within synthetic leather goods, were confiscated at the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound on July 12.
In a press conference, Group Head (Drug Investigation) of the Customs Drug Investigation Bureau of Hong Kong Customs Fong Heung-wing said that, following in-depth investigation and intelligence analysis, customs and law enforcement agencies in Australia mounted controlled delivery operations, leading to the arrests of four men — three in Hong Kong and one in Sydney, Australia, between Aug 23 and 25.
According to Hong Kong Customs, there are likely to be further arrests in connection with the case.
The three men arrested in Hong Kong — one was the director of the consignee company, the other two were the person-in-charge and a staff member of the logistics company — are aged from 44 to 71 years old.
Divisional Commander (Containerized Cargo Examination) of the Ports and Maritime Command of the Hong Kong Customs Alex Wong Kei-cheung said the drugs were concealed within 40 rolls of synthetic leather products, which had been transported in a shipment of over 600 rolls of synthetic leather goods from Mexico, and the recipient was a local textile company with no record of having previously received synthetic leather.
Unlike with previous smuggling cases, the goods had been distributed by the gang among the city’s three major port yards — Tuen Mun Distribution Centre, Tin Shui Wai container yard, and Kwai Chung Logistics Centre — in an attempt to thwart Customs inspectors.
Describing this crime mode as “a cicada cast off its shell to escape capture”, Hong Kong Customs said the drug syndicate used multiple transfers as a way to dodge inspection by the authorities. This was a new approach to smuggling, Fong said.
Fong pointed out that transnational collaborative smuggling is becoming increasingly severe, adding that Hong Kong Customs has established contact with law enforcement agencies in over 40 countries and regions worldwide, and will continue to cooperate and exchange information with law enforcement agencies in different regions to combat the activities of drug trafficking syndicates.
Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, trafficking in a dangerous drug is a serious offense. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of HK$5 million and life imprisonment.