Youth use of dial-a-drug service 'rising'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 October, 2007, 12:00am

Dealers offer citywide deliveries

Young people are buying drugs through a delivery service that can reach almost any place in the city within 30 minutes, police and a social worker say.

Delivery is a more concealed and convenient way for youngsters to obtain drugs and is also harder for the police to deal with.

The drug delivery issue was highlighted when Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced in his latest policy address the appointment of Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung, incumbent deputy chairman of the Fight Crime Committee, to lead a high-level interdepartmental taskforce in fighting what is seen as a worsening juvenile drug abuse problem.

According to the Centre for Psychotropic Substance Abusers, of the Hong Kong Christian Service, about a third of 130 young drug users asked admitted buying drugs through delivery services.

Ivy Chan Kin-yi, the centre's head, said the centre had noticed an increase in drug deliveries since the middle of last year.

'In most circumstances, the drugs are promised to be sent to a specified place within 30 minutes and the service is now available in all 18 districts, including some islands like Cheung Chau,' she said.

The drug dealers' contact numbers were usually passed from one user to another, with new customers having to visit the dealers' place the first time to establish trust, Ms Chan said.

She had talked to dozens of young people about their drug-taking experiences. 'They nicknamed the delivery service the 'fast food van', although sometimes there's no vehicle,' she said.

'The dealers would hide drugs in their shoes, leather belt or even a girl's bra. They will choose to give the drugs to the buyer in person, or simply put it into the buyer's mail box and leave.'

Cocaine and Erimin are the two major drugs involved in the service.

'People who provide this service can be teenagers or adults, most of whom have a 'boss' who takes most of the money,' Ms Chan said, adding that some individuals would earn only HK$50 for a single delivery.

Ms Chan said she was concerned about the situation.

'More young people have adopted this way of buying drugs, as they feel it is safer and more convenient. Compared to public places like discos and karaoke clubs, this is much harder for the police to cope with.'

A police spokesman said drug deliveries had existed in the city for years and the police were well aware of the situation.

'Police are taking regular action to deal with it. Education, information gathering and inspection are our major tactics.'

The number of young people taking drugs appears to have been on an upward trend in Hong Kong in recent years. Official statistics show that the number of juveniles arrested for serious offences had reached 550 by August, almost double last year's figure of 289.

Seizures of cocaine surged from 12kg in the first eight months of last year to 33kg in the same period this year.

Seizures of methamphetamine, commonly known as Ice, also increased from 4kg to 54kg during the respective periods.