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Drugs

Massive crystal meth crackdown in Guangdong province forcing Hong Kong drug dealers to find new suppliers across Asia and Africa

In new trend, parcels containing Ice are being airmailed to the city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 May, 2018, 8:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 May, 2018, 11:32pm

A massive crackdown on crystal meth factories in Guangdong province has forced Hong Kong drug dealers to find new suppliers across Asia and Africa, the Post has learned.

The new trend surfaced after a series of parcels containing the methamphetamine, also known as Ice, were mailed to the city and intercepted at the airport’s cargo terminal this year, according to law enforcement sources.

Customs officers at the terminal found 8kg of Ice hidden in seven parcels that had been airmailed from Benin, Cameroon, Malaysia and Nigeria in the first four months of this year. No such seizures were made in the same period last year.

“It is obviously a new trend in smuggling the drug Ice,” a law enforcement source said.

He said customs officers had strengthened inspection of inbound parcels arriving from those countries and boosted intelligence exchange and cooperation with their counterparts overseas.

In the first four months of this year, customs officers seized 21kg of crystal meth in 44 cases, down 60 per cent compared with 53kg in 42 cases in the same period last year.

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The source said there was a similar number of the cases but a sharp drop this year in the amount of drugs seized, reflecting an apparent lack of supply.

The street price for meth has surged to HK$550 (US$70) per gram, from as low as HK$280 per gram in 2016.

“The huge swoop across Guangdong led to the insufficient supply of the drug and pushed up the street prices,” the source added.

The Post has learned that over the past few years the supply of Ice into the city mainly came from Guangdong, and local drug dealers in 2016 could buy meth for as little as 50,000 yuan (US$7,830) a kilogram. But the price rose last year to between 70,000 and 80,000 yuan per kilogram.

Between 2015 and 2017, mainland Chinese police mounted large drug bust operations in the province that forced many underground drug factories and labs to close. A local newspaper report said police in Guangdong seized 5.75 tonnes of illegal drugs and arrested 273 people in 135 cases between 2015 and April last year.

“Intelligence shows that after the anti-narcotics operations, it has become difficult for local trafficking gangs to get a supply of Ice in Guangdong,” another source said.

They have to look for new suppliers. This prompted the use of air parcels to smuggle meth
Police source

“They have to look for new suppliers. This prompted the use of air parcels to smuggle meth into Hong Kong from African and Asian countries.”

On May 4, for example, a kilogram of Ice was found in the hidden compartments of three baby carriers. That parcel arrived from Laos.

Also last month, anti-drug officials from Hong Kong Customs and the police force’s narcotics bureau attended an annual international drug enforcement conference in the Netherlands. They exchanged intelligence and developed operational strategies to fight international drug traffickers.

The sources said attending law enforcement officials from different countries discussed how to combat new smuggling trends and promised to intensify efforts to combat the illegal trade.

The city’s Customs and Excise Department said it noticed a drop in seizures of crystal meth and an increase in the number of inbound air parcel cases this year.

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“Hong Kong Customs will closely monitor the drug trafficking trend and adopt effective anti-narcotics tactics,” its spokesman said.

“The department maintains close cooperation through intelligence exchange and joint operations with local, mainland and overseas law enforcement agencies against drug trafficking.”

In Hong Kong, trafficking in a dangerous drug carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine.