Hong Kong girl, 15, and two others arrested in HK$20 million cocaine bust
Police say drug dealers lure young locals into becoming drug mules with promises of quick cash and free travel
A teenage girl was one of three Hongkongers arrested this week as police broke up a cross-border drug trafficking syndicate and seized HK$20 million worth of cocaine.
The 15-year-old girl is believed to have been paid about HK$10,000 to bring the contraband to the city from Shenzhen, according to Chief Superintendent Ma Ping-yiu of the Narcotics Bureau.
The other suspects, two men aged 23 and 24, are believed to have hired her to make the delivery, Ma said.
Officers are still investigating whether the syndicate had recruited other underage locals to deliver drugs across the border, as well as how long the gang had been in operation.
The girl was picked up at the Shenzhen Bay immigration control point on Tuesday when she tried to enter the city in a seven-seater car hired by the gang. Officers seized 20kg of cocaine – with an estimated street value of HK$20 million – from her suitcase.
On the same day, one of the two men, aged 24, was caught in a raid on his home in Kowloon. The third suspect was picked up at the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint when he returned to Hong Kong from Shenzhen on Wednesday.
Superintendent Ng Wing-sze of the Narcotics Bureau said the girl was dressed like an office lady when she was picked up.
“A young girl carrying a suitcase to cross the border alone would have drawn attention from law enforcers,” she said, adding that the suspect may have worn office clothes to appear more mature and attract less scrutiny.
The chief superintendent said he believed the cocaine was mainly intended for local consumption.
The three suspects are likely to be charged with drug-related offences later on Thursday, according to police.
This case comes about a week after a Hong Kong woman was arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle more than 8kg of cocaine into Taipei.
About a month ago, another three Hongkongers were picked up in Bangkok on suspicion of carrying 12.3kg of cocaine into Thailand from Brazil. The arrests were made at Suvarnabhumi Airport after Hong Kong police tipped off the local authorities.
Police in Hong Kong have warned that drug dealers are increasingly seeking to lure local teenagers into the illegal trade by using quick cash and free entertainment and travel as bait.
“In addition to monetary rewards, teenagers are told by drug dealers that they are young and will receive a lighter sentence if caught,” Ng said.
She said young drug mules were recruited by dealers on the internet or through referrals from their friends.
Police figures showed cocaine seizures in the city rose about 97 per cent last year to 576kg, compared to 292kg in 2015.