Attempt to smuggle flu tablets into Macau foiled
Clifford Lo and Simpson Cheung
Macau authorities found flu pills that could be used to make HK$33 million worth of the drug Ice after they intercepted a mainland man who arrived with seven suitcases on Tuesday.
It is understood to be the first time Macau authorities have come across the use of flu medicine in drug smuggling. Macau requires a permit to import flu tablets, a controlled drug.
The record consignment was being smuggled from Bangladesh to the mainland via Hong Kong and Macau, officials said. The pills were buried in 438 bags of washing powder in the suitcases.
The mainlander was arrested. He was suspected of having received 3,000 yuan (HK$3,683) to smuggle the drugs into Macau.
The haul is believed to be bound for clandestine laboratories in Fujian , where the flu tablets could be used to produce the stimulant drug Ice, a type of methamphetamine.
'There are 166.5kg of tablets, from which about 60kg of pseudoephedrine can be extracted,' a Macau Judiciary Police spokeswoman said.
'The amount of pseudoephedrine can be used to produce 17kg of Ice. The haul is estimated to have a street value of 34 million Macau patacas (HK$32.4 million).'
Pseudoephedrine is a key component used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.
The 32-year-old man left Bangladesh on Monday for Hong Kong, where he took a ferry to Macau on Tuesday, police said.
At the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier, he collected his check-in luggage about noon but raised the suspicions of customs officials.
'The suspect was very nervous at the customs counter and ran off [leaving behind his luggage],' said Vong Chi-hong, head of the Macau Judiciary Police economic crimes division. 'Our colleagues from customs immediately alerted all checkpoints to look out for him.'
About half an hour later, the man was arrested at another border checkpoint - Border Gate of Portas de Cerco - while trying to leave for the mainland.
According to the Macau Judiciary Police website, 135 grams and 38 tablets of methamphetamine were seized in Macau and there were 19 reports of drug trafficking in the first two months this year. There were 226 tablets of methamphetamine and 96 cases of drug trafficking in the whole of last year.