Record haul of ketamine and Ice seized

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 December, 2008, 12:00am

Ketamine disguised as sugar and methamphetamine disguised as milk powder were among illegal drugs valued at HK$41.3 million found hidden in loudspeakers at Chek Lap Kok airport cargo terminal.

The consignment, comprising 307kg of ketamine and 10kg of methamphetamine, also known as Ice, was the biggest seizure made by customs officers. The seized ketamine is nearly three times what law enforcers discovered in the first 10 months of this year.

The 317 packets of the illegal drugs - each weighing 1kg - were found hidden in 40 loudspeakers in air cargo that arrived in Hong Kong from India, via Singapore, at 1.30am on November 22. No one has been arrested and investigations, with the help of Indian and Singaporean authorities, are continuing.

The shipment was selected for X-ray inspection after officers became suspicious about its weight, said Chief Superintendent Daniel Tam Wai-lun, head of customs' airport command.

'Each speaker weighs about 10kg. After drugs were concealed inside, the weight rose to 18kg,' he said.

Six to eight packets of drugs were found in each speaker. Towels had been used to fill the space to prevent the packs moving around during transport. The ketamine in nine packs was in granules. The other packs of ketamine and Ice were in powder form.

Tam Yiu-keung, customs' assistant commissioner for intelligence and investigation, said it was the first time ketamine had been found in granules and Ice in powder form. He believed that the nine packets of ketamine granules, which had been labelled sugar, and about 10 packets of ketamine powder were samples for buyers.

'It is possible that ketamine will be disguised as sugar to avoid detection by law enforcers in future,' he said.

Mr Tam said it was likely that Ice, which in the past had been found in crystal form, could now be produced in powder form and passed off as milk powder.

But it was too early to say whether this would become a trend, he said.

Officers said the ketamine granules would have to be ground into powder before being sold to users.

Judging by the large quantity of drugs seized, Mr Tam believed the haul was intended for use overseas.

He said demand for illegal drugs usually increased during festive periods and customs would step up inspections at border checkpoints.

'I believe we are capable of stopping such drug-trafficking activities in which Hong Kong is used as a transit point. This seizure demonstrates this,' he said.