Hong Kong Customs has stepped up enforcement at all control points with the approach of the festive season to clamp down on cross-boundary drug trafficking activities.
Customs officers will stay vigilant at all times to foil attempts by drug traffickers who may take advantage of the busy passenger and cargo flows at the control points during the coming Christmas and New Year holidays.
The department will also continue to maintain close contacts with local and overseas enforcement agencies to strengthen intelligence exchange to combat the cross-boundary drug trafficking.
In the first 11 months of this year, Customs officers at the land boundary control points have detected 239 drug cases and arrested 207 people. During the corresponding period last year, 99 people were arrested in 124 drug cases. The increase in the number of cases and arrests reflected positively on the Customs efforts in drug detection.
To the end of November, 42 people aged below 21 were arrested in 41 drug cases upon their arrival to Hong Kong at the control points. This is an increase on the 21 people arrested in 21 cases in the same period last year.
Speaking at a press conference today (December 18), the Head of Customs Drug Investigation Bureau, Mr John Lee, said that the department not only employed advanced technology, such as X-ray checkers and ion scanners, but also made use of drug detector dogs.
Also present at the press conference, the Divisional Commander (Customs Detector Dog), Mr Lam Sze-hau, said that the Customs drug detector dogs were playing an important role in combating cross-boundary drug trafficking. Hong Kong Customs has been allocated additional resources to enhance the drug detecting capability of the Customs Detector Dog Unit, and strengthen deterrent effect against drug trafficking.
From January to November this year, the Customs drug detector dogs have cracked 21 cases, leading to the seizure of about $12.59 million worth of drugs and the arrest of 15 people.
Mr Lee said that to tie in with the Government's efforts to deter youth from abusing drugs on the Mainland, Hong Kong Customs officers would pay attention to youngsters travelling across the boundary at the control points.
He also appealed to young people not to smuggle drugs, because drug trafficking was a serious offence. They will face serious consequences if convicted. Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, the maximum penalty for drug trafficking is life imprisonment and a fine of $5 million.
Apart from taking stringent enforcement actions against drug trafficking, Hong Kong Customs would also work hand in hand with non-governmental organisations to help young people to stay away from drugs and lead a healthy life, Mr Lee said.
At today's press conference, the Team Leader of the Youth Outreach Social Work Team, Mr Lo Po-sing, spoke about the joint efforts of the Customs and his organisation in helping young drug offenders who had been arrested by Customs to turn over a new leaf in their lives by staying off drugs.
Ends/Thursday, December 18, 2008