More than HK$100 million worth of ketamine found in welded machine shipped to Taiwan through Hong Kong

Drug haul is enough to supply 2 million abusers, according to authorities, and two syndicate suspects have been arrested

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 5:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 5:09pm

More than HK$100 million worth of drugs was found stashed in a compact hydraulic machine shipped into Taiwan from mainland China through Hong Kong, according to Taiwanese authorities.

The 200kg ketamine seizure – enough to supply “2 million” abusers – was made in August along with the arrests of two suspected core figures in a drug trafficking syndicate, the Taiwan Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau said on Wednesday.

Calling the concealment “well-planned”, the bureau said investigations showed thick steel was used in the machine to shield the drugs from X-rays. Welding work was also applied to mask the smell of the drug from sniffer dogs.

Illegal guns and ammo worth US$1.34 million seized in Taiwan

The Taiwanese authority said one of the suspects was a welder and the work was carried out in mainland China before the shipment was arranged.

The container carrying the machine was shipped into Keelung in Taiwan from Dongguan in mainland China, through Hong Kong.

“Suspicious images were found in X-ray scans. Officers then decided to break into the machine for inspection,” a Keelung official said.

Suspicious images were found in X-ray scans. Officers then decided to break into the machine
Keelung official

After using an electric saw to break open the machine, 10 bags containing 200kg of ketamine were found inside. Following the seizure, a task force was immediately set up to investigate the matter.

“The haul of ketamine is estimated to be valued at NT$400 million (HK$102 million) on the black market. It can supply about 2 million drug abusers,” the bureau said in a statement.

Ketamine is used in medication for anaesthetic purposes and can induce a trancelike state and memory loss.

The welder suspect was arrested when he arrived at the Keelung port to collect the consignment in mid-August. The other man was detained at the airport when he arrived in Taiwan later that month.

Taiwanese authorities said an investigation was under way and officers were tracking down other members of the syndicate.

The case came after Taiwan police confiscated illegal firearms – 109 guns and 12,378 rounds of ammunition – shipped into northeastern Taiwan through Hong Kong in April. The consignment was estimated to be worth NT$90 million (US$3 million). Six people were arrested in a follow-up investigation.