Police seize 3 tonnes of Ecstasy chemicals

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 July, 2005, 12:00am

Haul from the mainland is enough to make $100 million worth of the drug

Police have seized more than three tonnes of chemicals they believe were intended for the manufacture of Ecstasy. They estimated the materials could have made about $100 million worth of the party drug.

The chemicals, hidden among barrels containing oil, were found in two containers shipped from the mainland on Wednesday and bound for Indonesia, a source said.

The seizure, which is understood to be the biggest ever of this kind in Hong Kong, was made by Narcotics Bureau officers with the assistance of customs after they were tipped off by mainland authorities, the same source said.

A police spokesman said no one had been arrested in Hong Kong although an investigation was under way.

Tests were being conducted on a solution thought to contain the Ecstasy ingredient MDP2P (methylenedioxy-phenyl-2-propanone).

'It is suspected that the chemicals could be used for manufacturing tablets of the drug Ecstasy. The nature of the chemicals has not yet to be confirmed,' the spokesman said.

They were first identified and located by customs officers who had been asked by the Narcotics Bureau to provide assistance and monitor shipping containers arriving from the mainland.

The suspect containers were taken to the Kwai Chung customs house for inspection after no one arrived to collect them.

Another source said officers from the Narcotics Bureau have tried to track down shipping agencies involved in the shipment.

The source said that after successful raids against a number of underground drug laboratories on the mainland last year, traffickers are exporting drug-making chemicals instead of Ecstasy.

Last October mainland police arrested a Hong Kong man who was accused of hiding 3.9 tonnes of drug-making chemicals in a warehouse in Shenzhen.

Police said the man had also admitted his part in a drug-smuggling case in which 3,037kg of chemicals that could be used to make Ecstasy were shipped from Shenzhen to the Netherlands last July.

Police seized 158,195 tablets of Ecstasy in Hong Kong between January and April this year. Last year 283,568 Ecstasy pills were seized.

About three months ago two men arrested in the first police raid on an Ecstasy laboratory in Hong Kong received lengthy prison sentences for making dangerous drugs. Huang Song-fu, 47, received a 15-year term and Kong Pak-lun, 34, received a 10-year term.

The court heard that about 24,000 Ecstasy tablets, 30kg of the key ingredient of the drug and other chemicals worth $1.7 million were seized in July 2003 from a Hunghom industrial unit.

Police also found a small press capable of producing two tablets per second, a large quantity of other drug-making equipment and soundproofing materials.