Nine Africans were sentenced to jail terms of up to almost 17 years yesterday for smuggling more than 9,000 grams of heroin into Hong Kong in their bodies.
The Court of First Instance heard that the eight Tanzanians and one Kenyan were caught at the airport on separate occasions between November 5 and 19.
But there was no evidence they were from a single syndicate, despite the similarity of the cases.
Bakari Badi Omari, 29; Kondo Ally Mohamed, 27; Makuti Al-Jaribu Hassan, 30; Mtwanzi Carlos Adam, 18; Mtalu Rajab Ally Rajab, 23; Mnyamani Hamady Ally, 30; Abdallah Anwar Abbas, 37; Mansur Mustafa Mansur Bakari, 26; and Mohamed Abubakar Nazir, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in a dangerous drug.
Mr Justice Louis Tong Po-sun sentenced them to terms ranging from 12 years and eight months to 16 years and eight months.
The court heard that the 9,261 grams of heroin they carried was worth more than HK$8 million.
Prosecutors Winsome Chan, Janice Kwan and Harish Melwaney said customs officers questioned the traffickers upon arrival as they were suspected of concealing drugs.
Signs that gave them away included loud breathing, bulging stomachs and shaking hands.
X-rays revealed foreign substances, wrapped in tinfoil and plastic, concealed in different parts of their bodies including abdomen and rectum.
The packages were discharged within a few days and chemical analysis found them to contain heroin hydrochloride.
Mr Justice Tong was told that the defendants had expected to receive thousands of US dollars.