Prisoner ate large drugs haul to smuggle into jail

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 October, 2010, 12:00am

A prisoner on remand is suspected of smuggling an unusually large amount of drugs into jail by swallowing them after 26 pellets of a substance believed to be heroin were found in his faeces.

Officers at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre say the amount of the drug was 10 times the amount usually seen in such cases.

Philip Miu Yin-man, chief superintendent of the centre, said: 'Usually only two or three pellets are found.'

Officers believe the 52-year-old man, who had been charged with trafficking in a dangerous drug, swallowed the plastic-wrapped pellets before admission to the centre on Thursday last week.

The department is investigating whether the drug was for the man's own use or for sale to inmates.

The pellets were found in his excreta on Saturday and yesterday, and he is still being watched in case more remain in his body.

Acting on information that the inmate might have swallowed drugs before his admission, officers placed him in an isolation cell for close observation, the Correctional Services Department said yesterday.

Officers familiar with the case said they had also been alerted by the fact that the man had a record of trafficking drugs in prison.

The seized drugs have been sent to police and will be identified by the Government Laboratory. 'The department is committed to maintaining a drug-free environment for all people in its custody,' a spokeswoman said.

The department made 188 seizures of dangerous drugs in all its institutions last year, and 111 seizures this year until Sunday. Most of the drugs were found in the reception centres, where remand prisoners are held until their cases are resolved.

'Smugglers are risking their lives by swallowing pellets of drugs as they can kill if the pellets burst inside their bodies,' the chairman of the Correctional Services Officers' Association, Chiu Chi-keung, said.

Under existing security practice, random checks are made on inmates' faeces to guard against drugs being smuggled this way.

Also, the clothes and belongings of selected inmates are subjected to X-ray scanning.

'We are looking for new technology and methods to help conduct these scans,' Chiu said. The department has been exploring the use of X-ray body scanners to help in the search for contraband concealed in the bodies of inmates.

Heroin is one of the most common drugs trafficked by inmates.

Narcotics nailed

In all Correctional Services Department institutions last year, the number of drugs seizures made totalled: 188