HK Customs cracks down on trafficking in heroin from "Golden Crescent" to HK through circuitous routes

25 Apr 2008

Between March 26 and April 22, Customs officers of the Airport Command (APC) and the Customs Drug Investigation Bureau (CDIB) seized 18 kilograms of heroin, and arrested 2 Filipinos and 6 Africans in 8 drug smuggling cases. The drugs had an estimated retail value of HK$10.6 million.

Subsequent to three successful anti-narcotics operations at the Hong Kong International Airport – Operation “Moon-cracker” in November 2006 in which 15 African men were arrested with 30 kilograms of “Golden Crescent” heroin seized, and Operations “Curry” and “Hockey” between March and May in 2007 in which 14 Thai women were arrested with 9 kilograms of “Golden Crescent” heroin seized, similar drug trafficking activities had subsided.

Customs officers have been however remaining vigilant at all times and found in March this year the return of syndicated smuggling activities of “Golden Crescent” heroin.

On March 26 and 30, APC found 3.1 kilograms and 5.5 kilograms of heroin inside the false compartments of the luggage cases of 2 Filipino women who had arrived from Manila. Follow-up investigations by CDIB revealed that the seized drugs might be of “Golden Crescent” origin.

After further intelligence analysis and risk assessment, CDIB and APC conducted an operation codenamed “Mango” targeting at possible routes for the smuggling of “Golden Crescent” heroin into Hong Kong. In the meantime, constant exchange of intelligence was made with the Mainland Customs and overseas enforcement agencies.

As a result, 5 cases were cracked between April 16 and 20. A total of 2 Kenya women who had arrived from Delhi, 1 Tanzania man from Delhi via Kuala Lumpur, and 2 Tanzania men from Dubai were arrested for internal concealment of a total of 8 kilograms of high-grade heroin. All seized heroin was believed to be of “Golden Crescent” origin.

Intelligence exchange with the Mainland counterparts led to the arrest on April 22 of another courier, a Kenya man who had arrived from Dubai, for internal concealment of 1 kilogram of “Golden Crescent” heroin.

Follow-up investigations revealed that the drugs were destined for the Mainland.

The eight arrested persons, aged from 24 to 35, declared themselves as student, salesman or businessman. They had been charged under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.

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

Being a busy transportation hub, Hong Kong is conveniently located in the region with well-established transportation networks. Traffickers may attempt to smuggle drugs through Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Customs is committed to combating transnational and cross-boundary drug trafficking activities, and preventing Hong Kong from being used as a transit point for illicit drugs.

The above-mentioned successful operations clearly demonstrate that Hong Kong Customs is able to crack down on new trends of drug trafficking by employing effective enforcement strategies and advanced drug detection devices, coupled with close exchange of intelligence with its Mainland and overseas counterparts.

Ends/Friday, April 25, 2008

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