Customs warns youngsters to stay away from drug trafficking (with photos)

14 Mar 2008

Hong Kong Customs will step up enforcement at all control points around Easter to clamp down on cross-boundary drug trafficking activities.

Apart from increasing inspections on cross-boundary coaches and passengers, the Customs and Excise Department will enhance the deployment of drug detector dogs in drug detection.

Speaking at a press briefing at the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point today (March 14), the Head of Customs Drug Investigation Bureau, Mr Ben Leung, and the Divisional Commander (Spur Line and Through Train), Mr Ngan Hon-fat, elaborated on the department's anti-narcotics strategies for Easter.

Citing the heavy sentencing of young offenders convicted for drug trafficking in recent years, Mr Leung and Mr Ngan warned young people not to smuggle dangerous drugs, or they would face serious consequences.

In the first two months of this year, 41 persons were arrested for drug cases at the land boundary control points by Customs, and 14 of them were aged under 21. Whereas in 2007, a total of 117 persons were arrested for drug cases at the land boundary control points. Among the arrested, 27 were under 21, Mr Leung said.

For those people under 21 arrested this year, they were mostly involved in smuggling ketamine, cocaine, and psychotropic substances like estazolam. The common methods of drug trafficking included drugs concealed in folded banknotes, packed on the body or concealed in luggage.

Mr Leung said, “The Customs has been adopting target-oriented measures to crack down on cross-boundary drug trafficking activities by young people who smuggled a small quantity of drugs each time. As we have stepped up inspections on cross-boundary vehicles, particularly coaches, and passengers including young people, the number of persons under 21 arrested has risen.”

Appealing to the young people to stay away from drugs and not to risk their future by engaging in cross-boundary drug trafficking activities, Mr Leung warned them about the serious consequence of trafficking in dangerous drugs, even in a small quantity.

To illustrate the severity of the penalties for drug trafficking, Mr Leung highlighted some cases of the sentencing of the young offenders in recent years – an 18-year-old young man was sentenced to imprisonment for three years and nine months for trafficking in 843 grams of ketamine last year, while a 17-year-old young man faced the penalty of imprisonment for two years and eight months for trafficking in 520 grams of ketamine last year. Moreover, an 18-year-old young man was sentenced to an imprisonment for 13 years and 4 months for trafficking in 999 grams of cocaine in 2005.

The Divisional Commander (Spur Line and Through Train), Mr Ngan Hon-fat, said the customs officers at all control points would continue to stay vigilant around Easter.

Customs inspections at control points will be stepped up to minimize the possibility of offenders making use the huge volume of passenger and cargo flows to smuggle drugs. In addition, the department will maintain close liaison with local and overseas enforcement agencies through enhanced exchange of intelligence to stem the unlawful activities, Mr Ngan said.

“To strengthen enforcement against drug trafficking activities, Customs not only makes use of advanced technology, including ion scanners and the X-ray checkers, but also deploys drug detector dogs in drug detection,” he said.

At today's briefing, there was also a demonstration of the use of ion scanners in detecting drugs from passengers.

Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, the maximum penalty for trafficking in dangerous drugs is up to a fine of $5 million and life imprisonment.

Ends/Friday, March 14, 2008

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