Elderly men arrested in opium den

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 December, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 December, 1994, 12:00am

POLICE uncovered a secluded opium den, arrested three elderly men and seized $4,000 worth of prepared opium yesterday.

Officers from the Tin Sum taskforce in Sha Tin were combing hillside hideouts used by illegal immigrants when they found smoke billowing from a makeshift tent near Mei Lam Estate.

Police allegedly saw the trio, aged between 56 and 74, inhaling opium from a pipe. The men and their equipment were taken to Tin Sum police station.

Tin Sum police commander, Superintendent Jawaid Khan, said it was the first time police had found an opium den, although the Customs and Excise Department smashed a similar place for addicts in Tai Po Road, near Smugglers' Ridge, last year.

'Sha Tin district special duty squad have been alerted because we hope they can find the source of the opium,' he said.

Police Narcotics Bureau Detective Superintendent Chris Cantley said opium smoking was 'less and less common these days'.

'It's an old man's habit. It's dying out just as old men are dying. Twenty years ago opium was everywhere, but now there are very few,' he said.

The bureau seized 104 kilograms of raw opium and 15.6 kg of prepared opium in 1991-93. In the first 11 months of this year police seized 8.6 kg and 420 grams respectively.