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Hong Kong police

Road to Ultra music festival in Hong Kong: plain-clothes officers, sniffer dogs to watch for drug use

Police and venue AsiaWorld-Expo to step up security following death of reveller at last year’s event

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 June, 2018, 7:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2018, 9:28pm

Plain-clothes police and sniffer dogs will be deployed to beef up security and combat drug use when global electronic music festival Road to Ultra hits Hong Kong on Saturday – an event which last year saw one person die and three fall ill.

Revellers will have their clothes and belongings tested for narcotics and even explosives, as organiser Ultra Worldwide rolls out new security measures aimed at avoiding a repeat of last year’s tragedy.

The event will be Ultra’s third in Hong Kong but the first time it will be held indoors. The party kicks off at 1pm at AsiaWorld-Expo on Chek Lap Kok.

A 27-year-old Hongkonger died last September during the festival’s run at the West Kowloon Cultural District, an arts hub. Three others, aged 21 to 29, were admitted to hospital, and tested positive for controlled drugs. Police officers seized two bags of Ecstasy and the tranquilliser midazolam.

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Hong Kong police have since started sending plain-clothes officers to music festivals in the city. A police insider on Friday told the Post that Ultra would be no exception, especially after September’s unfortunate events.

“We show no mercy to drug abusers ... We will also send sniffer dogs and officers from the Police Tactical Unit,” the insider said.

Anyone caught in possession of even a tiny amount of a controlled substance would be liable to seven years in jail, he added. Selling drugs could incur a life term in prison.

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AsiaWorld-Expo earlier said it would work with police to keep illegal drugs away from the event, and also enhance its own security.

Festival-goers would have their clothes and belongings smeared with small paper slips which would then be analysed by an explosives, metal and narcotics detector, the venue said.

No bags bigger than an A5 piece of paper will be allowed in, and ravers may be subject to a pat-down search.

Drinking water would be available to anyone who needed it, the company added.

Ray Martinez, chief of security for the festival, earlier said the event was moving indoors because of weather concerns, but he also stressed the zero-tolerance approach to drugs.

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“The possession, sale or use of any illegal or illicit drugs at the event will not be tolerated anywhere, inside or outside the Ultra music festival venue,” he said.

He asked attendees to notify police or security if they saw any drug use.