First ketamine lab smashed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 November, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 November, 2002, 12:00am

Police have broken up the first ketamine manufacturing centre found in Hong Kong and seized enough raw material to produce $30 million worth of the territory's most popular party drug.

Officers also arrested four men aged between 31 to 43 and seized 81kg, or $4.86 million worth, of final and semi-finished ketamine from an industrial building in Fanling.

The seizure was the largest since December 2000, when ketamine was listed as a dangerous drug. About 90kg of the drug was netted in the first nine months of this year.

Narcotics Bureau Superintendent Ted Tsang Cheung-tat believes police have smashed a local syndicate and cracked the first local manufacturing plant. The drug previously came from overseas.

Officers arrested three of the suspects, who had two packets of ketamine, outside the industrial building on Thursday night. Their subsequent raid found manufacturing equipment and 50kg of raw material.

'We believe that if the ketamine was successfully produced it would have been targeted at the local market, especially entertainment premises over Christmas and New Year,' Mr Tsang said.

He said the seizure would probably mean the retail price of ketamine would surge from the present $60,000 a kilogram.

Mr Tsang said his officers arrested a fourth suspect at a hut at Chau Tau Village, Lok Ma Chau, where they seized 57 grams of suspected ketamine and a quantity of other banned substances.

Senior Superintendent Philip Sham Wai-kin said previous

successful operations in intercepting ketamine supplies from overseas might have inspired the syndicate to set up a local manufacturing plant.

Government records show that the number of new ketamine users surged from 1,206 in 2000 to 1,750 last year.