Hongkonger could face death penalty over HK$723 million drug bust in China

More than two tonnes seized after tip-off from informant who donned “King of Monkey” mask as Guangdong officials announced shutdown of illicit factories

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 3:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 11:00pm

A Hongkonger could face the death penalty along with more than 10 others arrested in Guangdong province over the seizure of more than two tonnes of the drug Ice valued at HK$723.6 million that was reportedly destined for the city.

On a tip-off, mainland police confiscated 2,010kg of the drug, two imitation guns and more than 10 bullets along with manufacturing equipment when they shut down two illicit drug producing factories, according to the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department.

A Hong Kong government source said the haul had an estimated street value of HK$723.6 million. He believed the narcotics were not intended for local consumption because of the large amount.

“It is possible the Ice was destined for Australia or New Zealand, where it could be sold for five or six times what it would sell for in Hong Kong,” the source said.

But he said the drug could be bought illegally for less than HK$50,000 per kg from illegal drug labs on the mainland.

It is understood half of the crystal meth, also known as Ice, confiscated in Australia and New Zealand in the past has come from the mainland via Hong Kong.

The massive seizure in Guangdong was partly based on a tip-off from an informant who received 30,000 yuan (HK$34,500) as a reward when the case was made public by mainland officials at a press conference on Thursday.

Last month mainland police set up a task force to investigate a drug-trafficking syndicate after identifying three men, including a Hongkonger surnamed Wong, who tried to produce crystal meth and smuggle it into Hong Kong, the Guangdong department said.

A department report stated mainland police raided a drug producing factory in Panyu in Guangdong last month and confiscated more than 1,110kg of drug Ice in solid and liquid forms along with raw materials and equipment.

“After the closure of the [Panyu] drug producing factory, Wong and his gang moved to Jieyang and other locations [in Guangdong] to continue drug-making activites,” it said.

After an in-depth probe into its network and to track down the suspects, mainland police from Jieyang, Shanwei, Shenzhen and Guangzhou mounted a joint operation earlier this month and raided another drug producing factory in Jieyang where the Hongkonger and more than 10 suspects were arrested.

At the Jieyang factory, officers seized more than 90kg of crystal meth and another 810kg of the drug in liquid form along with manufacturing equipment.

Another source said it was possible the solution was being prepared either as a semi-finished product or for disguise as a detergent or shampoo to be smuggled out of the mainland to avoid detection.

The department said Guangdong police carried out a series of operations against drug-related activities this year. In the first nine months of this year, they handled over 15,000 drug-related cases, arrested over 19,000 people, and confiscated more than 14,700kg of illegal drugs.

The sources said drug traffickers caught on the mainland could face the death penalty.

Young people addicted to Ice four times more likely to have urinary problems, Hong Kong study finds

Hong Kong law enforcement officials seized 286kg of Ice in the first seven months of this year, a 3.6 per cent uptick compared with 276kg over the same period last year.

On December 25, 2001, a Hong Kong drug lord and four of his associates in the city were sentenced to death by a mainland court for the production and smuggling of the world’s largest haul of drug Ice.

In that case, Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court ruled that Chong Cho-sing, 40, was the leader of a narcotics ring that produced and trafficked more than 31 tonnes of “Ice” in factories they set up in Dongguan and Huizhou in Guangdong province, Wuhan in Hubei province, and Nanning in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, the court heard.