Hongkongers as young as 14 among hundreds arrested in HK$85 million summer drug crackdown

Police say 287 people were arrested in three operations; they seized suspected heroin, methamphetamine, crack cocaine and ketamine

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 10:01pm

Illegal drugs with an estimated street value of more than HK$85 million have been confiscated in a citywide sweep during the summer holidays, according to Hong Kong police, with the youngest suspect just 14 years old.

A total of 287 people – 219 men and 68 women – were rounded up when officers raided nearly 100 locations across the city during three separate operations mounted between July 11 and August 28.

Among them, 24 suspects were under the age of 20 – 21 males and three females – with the youngest just 14 years and the oldest being 86, a police spokesman said yesterday .

The suspects were arrested for various drug offences such as possessing, trafficking and manufacturing drugs or managing drug dens.

One of the operations, codenamed Vanquisher, was aimed at deterring teenagers from taking or trafficking drugs, police said.

The second, codenamed Tailbacker, targeted venues including flats where teenagers gathered and took drugs.

The third, codenamed Knotstring, which was mounted with the Customs and Excise Department, was against cross-border drug trafficking. During the two-week operation, customs officers stepped up inspections at a number of immigration control points.

In the three operations, about 85kg of illegal drugs were confiscated with an estimated street value of HK$85.6 million, police said.

The suspected drugs included about 60kg of heroin, 6.7kg of methamphetamine, about 5.7kg of crack cocaine and 4.6kg of ketamine.

The suspected heroin, believed to have been smuggled from Vietnam, was seized with the arrest of four men at a Kwai Chung container terminal on July 22. Police said the four men, aged between 27 and 41, were sailors on a cargo vessel from Haiphong, Vietnam.

A police source said the consignment was the biggest single seizure of the drug since 2013. Figures show heroin seizures fell from 56kg in 2013 to 38kg in 2015.

Venues raided included upstairs pubs and flats used as drug dens.

“Police are determined to fight drug-related crimes and will continue to carry out anti-drug operations during long holidays such as Christmas, Lunar New Year and Easter,” the force said.

Police also appealed to teenagers to stay away from drugs and urged parents to be on the alert to prevent their children from being recruited into illegal activities.

Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, traffickers can face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of HK$5 million.

Figures show seizures of heroin rose by 362 per cent to 74kg in the first seven months of the year from 16kg in the same period last year.

Cocaine seizures increased by 262 per cent to 445kg in the first seven months of the year from 183kg in the same period last year.

A push into the Asia-Pacific region by notorious South American drug cartels has seen the amount of cocaine seized in Hong Kong triple in less than two years, the Post was told. Cocaine seizures went up from 130kg in the whole of 2014 and 340kg last year.