International effort to break syndicate nets Ice suspect The alleged ringleader of a multinational drug syndicate which set up one of the world's largest drug laboratories was arrested when he tried to flee Hong Kong, Customs officers said yesterday. Wednesday's arrest of the 29-year-old Filipino-Chinese man came after law-enforcers in the Philippines raided the drug lab in Cebu last Friday and seized $180 million worth of the party drug Ice and chemicals that could have produced 7.5 tonnes more with a street value of $2.1 billion. The raid led to the arrest of a further 11 people, including a Hong Kong man. Officers believe that the Hong Kong resident, surnamed Hung, was manager of the lab. 'We believe that the mega drug lab had been in operation since the beginning of this year and could produce 500kg of the drug Ice a week,' said Assistant Commissioner William Chow Oi-tung of the Customs and Excise Department. 'We believe that the multinational syndicate did not supply the drug to one country alone.' Officers said they had investigated the syndicate since May with officers from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, police in the Philippines, and their counterparts in Macau. 'It was a very successful operation. It demonstrates the effectiveness of a multinational approach to the fight against international drug dealers,' Mr Chow said. Ben Leung Lun-cheung, head of the Customs Drug Investigation Bureau, said he believed the Cebu lab was one of the three largest drug-manufacturing plants ever found. He said the alleged mastermind had been under surveillance since he arrived in Hong Kong on Tuesday last week. The man was arrested by Customs officers at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan on Wednesday evening when he tried to leave for Macau. He was carrying a small quantity of the drugs ketamine, cocaine and Ice, plus US$90,000 and HK$120,000 in cash. 'In his possession, we also found some bankbooks which shows that he is in control of $11 million,' Mr Chow said. He said customs officials would apply for a court order to freeze the cash if investigations showed the money was linked to drug trafficking or other illegal activities. He said extradition to the Philippines was possible, but by last night no charges had been laid against the man.