Special armed escorts for seized drugs

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 August, 2007, 12:00am

Millions of dollars worth of illegal narcotics secretly go up in smoke every month

About once a month, a special police taskforce secretly delivers millions of dollars worth of drugs to an incinerator.

The cargo of seized drugs, locked and secured in sacks and boxes, are destined to go up in smoke in the Tsing Yi incinerator.

Heavily armed police officers deliver the sealed packets of party drugs such as ketamine and Ecstasy, heroin, cannabis, cocaine, Ice and various pills.

The latest batch of drugs was despatched on June 26, when illegal drugs with a street value of nearly HK$15.7 million were incinerated, according to Senior Inspector Liza Chau Kar-kin, of the Narcotics Bureau.

Police said about HK$100 million worth of illegal drugs seized by police and other law enforcers was destroyed last year.

Senior Inspector Chau said while police did not fear that anyone would try to seize the drugs they were wary of the possibility and had a system in place to ensure the drugs were securely transported to the incinerator.

'Different and safe routings are used in delivery,' she said.

'Officers wearing bulletproof vests and carrying handguns and shotguns are deployed to escort the drugs, and a police motorcade is needed.'

Seized drugs are driven from undisclosed strongrooms to the incinerator and then loaded onto a conveyor belt connected to the furnace.

'The whole destruction work is supervised and overseen by the Dangerous Drugs Disposal Board comprising a superintendent and a chief inspector,' Senior Inspector Chau said.

The secret work is arranged by a special taskforce, the Narcotics Bureau's Police Drug Disposal Unit.

Drugs are sent to the unit to be destroyed when they are no longer needed as court evidence.

It usually takes about six weeks after the conclusion of a court case before they are incinerated.

'We are glad to see dangerous drugs being destroyed because they harm society,' Senior Inspector Chau said.

'The seizure of illegal drugs is the beginning of a case and the drug destruction is the end. The whole procedure can take several months or years.'

She said the company responsible for the incinerations closely noted air emissions through a comprehensive management and monitoring programme to ensure it was operating safely and in an environmentally acceptable manner.

Drug seizures have risen sharply in recent years and serious narcotics offences increased by 37.5 per cent in the first half of this year.

More than 440kg of cannabis was found, up from 34kg, and more than 42,000 tablets of Ecstasy were discovered in the year to June, compared with 3,062 in the first half last year.

Last month, customs officers made Hong Kong's largest seizure of cocaine after finding 160kg of the drug, with a street value of HK$111 million, hidden inside two containers carrying bottled purified water from Panama.

Upward spiral

Ecstasy tablets seized in the first half of this year 42,000

Ecstasy tablets seized in the first half of last year 3,062