BRITISH detectives who smashed a syndicate trading in internationally-banned Chinese medicines have revealed the consignment was bound for Hong Kong. Officers raided four illicit factories making and exporting illegal medicines containing tiger bones, rhinoceros horns and bile from bears' gall-bladders. Detectives identified the factories in the Chinatown districts of London, Birmingham and Manchester as prime sources of an illegal overseas trade supplying Hong Kong with traditional medicines. Seized documents revealed the medicine, worth $8.5 million, was part of a consignment heading largely to the territory, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Japan. While delighted with the success of the raid, conservationists at the World Wide Fund for Nature believe the find highlights a worrying new trend. David Melville, executive director of the WWF's Hong Kong branch, said: 'This emphasises the fact that one must look at this evil trade as a global issue. 'We were worried that this trade would grow once the barriers in Europe opened up. Russia and Germany have changed dramatically and now that custom barriers have disappeared it is easier for these medicines to move around. 'I will be calling our office in London to find out how this syndicate was hoping to get the medicine to Hong Kong. It is essential to identify how this ends up in the territory.' Manufacture and trade in medicines which contain parts of endangered species is an offence in both the UK and Hong Kong. The factories had been under surveillance for five months. A total of 11,000 bottles, canisters, jars and packets of medication were recovered in synchronised raids held at the beginning of the month. Police arrested 27 Chinese men and four women. Reports are being prepared for the Crown Prosecution Service and several charges are expected to be made next month. 'We found entire bones, huge pieces of horn, compressed balls of congealed bears blood and 20 gall bladders,' Scotland Yard Commander Michael Taylor said. A London-based WWF spokesman said four of the raided premises were enjoying good trade as retail outlets serving the British Chinese community, and ran lucrative mail order operations. 'They were producing these medicines on-site and the paperwork revealed a huge export trade.' The medicines are used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, paralysis, muscle fatigue, as a cough cure, and to counteract nervous spasms and hypertension.