CRIME

Police at airport find 24kg of cocaine, the biggest haul this year

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 August, 2013, 3:33am

Police seized 24kg of cocaine from the luggage of a jobless teenager after he landed at the airport from South America.

Yesterday's haul, hidden in 12 carpet squares, and worth HK$23 million, is the biggest seized this year in the city. It came a day after customs officers busted a laboratory in Tai Kok Tsui making crack cocaine and seized drugs worth HK$5 million.

Officers from the police narcotics bureau, acting on intelligence, arrested the 19-year-old suspect at the airport as he waited at a taxi stand1. They found the cocaine in secret layers inside the carpet squares, which had been wrapped in plastic bags. Police said it was the first time they had found drugs hidden in carpet.

Chiu Chi-keung, a narcotics bureau senior inspector, said the suspect told officers he had been paid HK$30,000.

Police believe some of the haul was intended for the Hong Kong market.

The suspect was detained overnight for investigation.

On Friday, customs officers arrested a 26-year-old man in the raid on the crack cocaine laboratory. Yesterday they revealed they had found 4.4kg of drugs there - 2.8kg of cocaine in powder form and 1.6kg of crack cocaine. A further 300 grams of cocaine was discovered at the suspect's home.

Officers witnessed the suspect dealing drugs earlier on Friday and trailed him to the lab.

Andy Hui Wai-ming, head of the Customs and Excise Department's drug investigation unit, said the lab was rudimentary.

Hui denied the suspect was a member of a triad gang, but said he was a principal member of a syndicate that sought to distribute drugs around Kowloon.

"Cocaine is not a popular drug in Hong Kong, but among cocaine users, crack is more popular," Hui said.

Hong Kong has recently seen a dramatic increase in the amount of drugs seized. In the first five months of this year, customs officers seized 174kg of illegal narcotics - 127 per cent up on the same period last year.

However, Hui denied the city was becoming a transit hub for drug smugglers, attributing the increase to improved enforcement methods.