Ketamine found in parcel from India

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

Ten kilograms of almost pure ketamine were found by customs officers at the airport yesterday, hidden in three painted wooden panels and an altar being shipped from India.

The officers opened an express parcel bound for Taiwan at 4.30am after suspicions were raised. The customs note said the package contained 'panels', but a closer inspection revealed the consignment of the illegal party drug ketamine, with a street value of about HK$1.6 million.

Customs said the seizure was a result of its strict risk-management system, which isolated potentially illegal and dangerous goods that passed through Hong Kong.

Suspicions were often raised by the descriptions of goods on customs declarations. They were rarely sent by express mail because of the high cost, an officer said.

An X-ray machine and a hi-tech ion scanning system were used to check yesterday's cargo. Information about the seizure of the shipment has been passed to authorities in India and Taiwan to track the shipper and the recipient.

India has long been a common source of illicit drugs for the Hong Kong and mainland markets. Last year, officers made a string of seizures after co-operating with Indian authorities. More than 12kg of drugs was seized from packages sent over a 10-day period in March last year. One bound for Shenzhen was declared as containing food, books and clothes.

But this year, seizures of ketamine have declined sharply. Customs and police figures for January to May show that seizures of Ecstasy rose more than 1,250 per cent, to 41,000 pills, compared with 2006, while ketamine seizures declined more than 90 per cent, to 34kg.