CRIME

Hong Kong police arrest 6 African asylum seekers, seize illegal drugs and US$730,000 cash

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 January, 2015, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 January, 2015, 2:33am

Six African asylum seekers were arrested as police seized US$730,000 in cash and illegal drugs worth HK$520,000 following an undercover operation in the bar district of Wan Chai.

The six men, aged from 27 to 44, were arrested on suspicion of trafficking in dangerous drugs.

The arrests were made after the men were identified in a number of drug transactions with undercover agents in Wan Chai over the past three months.

Officers posing as buyers successfully bought illegal drugs from the gang during the undercover operation, according to chief inspector Addy Li Chi-kin of Wan Chai district crime squad.

He said the undercover operation was initiated after intelligence indicated a gang of Africans peddled illegal drugs in the bar area of Wan Chai.

“Investigations showed they hid illegal drugs in alleys and canopies near the bar area and touted for business in pubs,” Li said.

After the three-month investigation, officers from the Wan Chai district crime squad with the support of the anti-triad squad and special duty squad picked up six African men in Wan Chai in the early hours of this morning.

Li said the suspects were the alleged ringleader of a drug trafficking syndicate and his followers.

Officers also seized 12 grams of suspected cocaine, 11 grams of cannabis buds and a small quantity of ecstasy and cannabis resin hidden inside a ventilation duct in a Lockhart Road alley. The haul has an estimated street value of HK$20,000.

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In a follow-up raid at a Yau Ma Tei flat occupied by the alleged ringleader, police seized about US$730,000, half a kilo of cocaine and 21 grams of crystal methamphetamine with an estimated street value of HK$500,000.

“The money is suspected to be the drug proceeds of the drug trafficking syndicate,” Li said.

He believes police have broken up the syndicate. Police are still investigating the source of the illegal drugs.

According to police, the six men became asylum seekers after arriving in the city. They have stayed in Hong Kong from one to nine years.

Last night, all the suspects were being held for questioning at Wan Chai police station and none of them had been charged.

Acting chief inspector Cheng Yan-yan of the special duty squad said there was no evidence that there was an increasing trend of drug trafficking in Wan Chai.

She said police would continue to monitor the situation and use intelligence-led operations to combat the problem.

Latest figures showed police and customs officers seized 1.3 tonnes of illegal drugs last year, a nearly 70 per cent rise from 777kg in 2013.

Among them, seizures of crystal meth, also known as Ice, rose by more than 330 per cent to 611kg last year while seizures of ketamine also increased by 69 per cent to 382kg last year.