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HK Customs smashes drug trafficking case with record seizure of 649kg of cocaine (with photos)

     Hong Kong Customs detected a cocaine trafficking case at Kwai Chung Container Terminals on July 4 with a record seizure of 649 kilograms of cocaine, with an estimated value of about $760 million, from a container arriving from Ecuador. Three local men were arrested in the operation.

     Speaking at a press conference on the operation today (July 6), the Head of Customs Drug Investigation Bureau, Mr Lee Cheung-wing, said, "To combat transnational cocaine trafficking activities, Hong Kong Customs, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and US Customs and Border Protection have jointly launched an anti-narcotics project codenamed 'Surfing Coke' since early 2012 to strengthen the intelligence analysis and risk management on sea containers originating from South America and tighten the liaison with the law enforcement agencies of South American countries.

     "Between April and June this year, the DEA has referred a batch of Hong Kong-bound containers exported from South American countries to Hong Kong Customs for follow-up action. With the co-ordination and support of the DEA, Hong Kong Customs officers visited three South American countries between late June and early July to meet with the responsible law enforcement agencies, enhancing the mutual anti-narcotics co-operation and intelligence exchange."

     On July 4, a container from Quayaquil, Ecuador, declared as containing "Laurel Wood", arrived in Hong Kong. In the afternoon on the same day, a container truck took the container and delivered it to a designated location for collection by two other men. Upon examination, Customs officers found inside the container 22 nylon bags containing a total of 541 slabs of cocaine, with each slab weighing about 1,200 grams, amounting to approximately 649kg. The driver and the two men were arrested.

     The driver (aged 52) is on bail pending further investigation. The two men (aged 34 and 37), claiming to be a waiter and a technician, will be charged with trafficking in a dangerous drug and will appear at Fanling Magistrates' Courts tomorrow.

     Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, drug trafficking is a serious offence and the maximum penalty is up to life imprisonment and a fine of $5 million.

Ends/Friday, July 6, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:57


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