The discovery of more than HK$23 million (US$2.9 million) worth of crystal meth in a shipment of ceiling tiles from Toronto would lead Hong Kong authorities to boost cooperation with their Canadian counterparts, a senior customs official said on Wednesday.
The 34kg haul, found on Wednesday, was almost double the 18kg of the drug sent to the city from Canada in the past three years, according to assistant Superintendent Henry Fong Heung-wing of customs’ drug investigation bureau.
He said there had been an increasing amount of crystal meth, known as methamphetamine or Ice, being sent into the city from Canada recently.
He said the trend had led customs officers to step up the inspection of cargo from Canada, which resulted in the seizure of 34kg of meth.
Hong Kong authorities display the crystal meth, worth HK$23 million, they found in a shipment of ceiling tiles from Toronto. Photo: Handout
“In the past three years, the seized meth was found in air parcels from Canada. The latest consignment was shipped into the city by sea,” Fong said.
The 34kg of meth was found with 38kg of cannabis buds in a shipment of 57 piles of ceiling tiles which arrived in the city last Friday. It was selected for inspection on Saturday.
“During the inspection, the illegal drugs were found hidden in the hollow centre of 16 piles of ceiling tiles,” the assistant superintendent said.
The consignment was then delivered to a Yuen Long warehouse and placed under round-the-clock surveillance by customs officers while waiting for the consignee to collect.
On Tuesday afternoon, a truck driver, aged 40, turned up at the warehouse and collected the consignment. Plain-clothes customs officers in unmarked vehicles followed the truck.
When reaching a remote hillside near Nam Hang Tsuen in the same district at about 5pm, the truck pulled over and another man aged 38 turned up.
As the two men unwrapped the cargo with box cutters, officers rushed in and arrested the pair.
Customs officers confiscated 34kg of meth and 38kg of cannabis buds during the operation. The seized drugs had an estimated street value of HK$30 million.
The two men were detained on suspicion of drug trafficking – an offence punishable by up to life in jail and a HK$5 million fine.
Fong said an initial investigation suggested the seized narcotics were for local consumption and to meet the festive season demand.
He said the investigation was continuing and further arrests were possible.
Provisional figures show seizures of crystal meth dropped by 5.5 per cent to 1,532kg in the first 10 months of last year from 1,621kg in the same period of 2021.
The figures did not include a HK$1.1 billion haul of liquid meth disguised as cartons of coconut water which was seized by customs officers in October. The 1.8-tonne haul shipped into the city from Mexico is Hong Kong’s biggest seizure of drugs by value.
Source : SCMP