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SCMP Cocaine seizures up four times on total for last year .pdf


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Friday June 11 2010

Cocaine seizures up four times on total for last
year
Clifford Lo
Cocaine seizures in Hong Kong so far this year are up nearly four times on the
amount captured for the whole of last year - boosted by two large hauls in two
months. But police say it is too soon to tell if the market for the drug is growing
locally.
In the latest seizure, the second biggest this year, 70 kilograms of the drug, worth
HK$61 million on the street, was found wrapped in yellow sandpaper and hidden in a
cargo of bricks.
It followed the record haul of 372kg found on the roof of a village house in Ta Kwu
Ling during inquiries into the disappearance of Dutch-Chinese visitor Chang Ma-kee
in April. Police are still looking for Chang, 50, who was reported missing by his wife
on April 22 after leaving their flat to visit a New Territories village.
On Wednesday, two brothers aged 17 and 20 and a 24-year-old man were arrested
at Choi Hung Estate after the brothers were found pushing a handcart bearing the
drugs hidden in boxes.
Chief Superintendent John Ribeiro, head of the Narcotics Bureau, said it was the first
time police had found drugs disguised as bricks. He said police believed the drug was
to be sold to buyers in Hong Kong, and would not have been redistributed overseas.
This year, more than 473kg of cocaine has been seized by police and customs
officers compared to 121kg last year and 64kg in 2008. Ribeiro said police needed
more time before they could properly assess whether the local cocaine market was
growing.
About 200 people were arrested for cocaine-related cases in the first four months of
this year, a 3 per cent rise on the same period last year.
Wednesday's seizure followed a months-long investigation. Police believe the drugs,
which came from South America, arrived in Hong Kong by sea several days earlier.
They said the three suspects were likely to be charged with trafficking.
The retail price of cocaine in Hong Kong has dropped from HK$1,200 a gram in 2002
to HK$880. Asked why young people were involve in drug trafficking, Ribeiro said the
wholesale price of 1kg of cocaine was about HK$24,000 in South American countries,
but could fetch HK$880,000 in Hong Kong.


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