Chinese police seize US$6.5 million worth of cocaine in shipping container after US tip-off

The 70kg haul, transported to Shanghai by a Mexican drug cartel, is the largest amount recovered by Chinese police in a single case in recent years, the state news agency Xinhua reports

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 4:45pm

Chinese police – with help from the United States – have seized 70 kilograms of cocaine in the country’s biggest single haul in recent years, state media said.

Police – who are cracking down on drugs as part of a wider war on excess – were tipped off about a suspect shipping container from Peru by US Drug Enforcement Administration officials, the official news agency Xinhua said.

“By analysing phone messages and emails of a Mexican drug cartel member who had been murdered, the DEA said the container would arrive in Shanghai on August 18, from where it would be put on board a ship destined for New Zealand,” Xinhua reported yesterday.

Police and customs officials searched the ship upon its arrival in Shanghai and found the cocaine.

Xinhua said the haul was “the largest amount ever recovered by Chinese police in a single case in recent years”.

The US street value of the drugs was more than US$6.5 million, according to the most recent estimates from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

China’s public security ministry said it had “in recent years strengthened cooperation with foreign agencies including the DEA”, Xinhua’s report said.

No information about the case could be found on the ministry’s website or online blog, and it did not immediately respond to a request for information from AFP.

Drugs that are illegally imported into China often come through its porous southern borders around the Mekong. But instances of cocaine entering from South America “have been on the rise”, Xinhua said.

Use of recreational drugs, such as methamphetamine and ecstasy, has risen in recent years as an economic boom has boosted the disposable income on the mainland’s middle classes.

Chinese authorities have mounted a crackdown on drug use in recent months, detaining celebrities including Jaycee Chan, 31, the son of Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan.

Taiwanese actor Ko Chen-tung, 23, who was detained with Chan on August 14, on charges of “taking drugs”, was released today. But Chan remains in custody.