Unemployed decorator smuggled HK$1m of Ice to pay for heart surgery: customs

Man, 56, was offered HK$10,000 that he needed to have a pacemaker installed, officers say

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 June, 2014, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 10:04am

An unemployed man tried to smuggle HK$1 million worth of the drug Ice from Shenzhen to Hong Kong to make HK$10,000 he needed to pay for heart surgery, customs officers said on Wednesday.

The 56-year-old former decorator was intercepted at the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint at about 9pm on Tuesday as he returned from the mainland.

Officers seized 2kg of methamphetamine, also known as Ice, from the man’s backpack. He was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking.

“The drug is worth more than HK$1 million on the streets of Hong Kong,” a customs officer said. “We believe it is for local consumption.”

Shortly after midnight, customs officers also nabbed a 47-year-old man in Mong Kok where they believe he was waiting to collect the drugs.

The man arrested at the border lost his job about a year ago because of a heart condition, according to a customs officer.

“Our officers were told that he needed money urgently to pay for a cardiac pacemaker to be implanted next month,” the officer said.

In a follow-up raid at the man’s Tai Kok Tsui home, officers found documents supporting his story about the operation. He lives with his wife and other family members in the flat.

Both Hong Kong residents were being held for questioning at customs headquarters in North Point on Wednesday afternoon. Neither has been charged.

It is the third time this month that customs officers have intercepted illegal drugs at the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint.

On June 1, officers arrested a woman and seized 1kg of Ice with an estimated street value of HK$500,000 as she returned from Shenzhen.

Another woman was caught with 8kg of ketamine on Sunday. The haul had an estimated street value of HK$950,000.

Both are Hong Kong residents.

Customs officers are investigating whether the three were recruited by the same drug-trafficking syndicate.

“To combat the problem, we will deploy extra officers at the checkpoints and enhance inspection,” the officer said.