Hong Kong police have seized 700kg of cocaine worth about HK$900 million (US$115.7 million) in their largest bust of the narcotic in a decade.
Officers arrested two men, aged 19 and 25, after finding bricks of cocaine in Fo Tan and Sha Tin on Friday and Saturday.
A haul of heroin and methamphetamine worth HK$15 million was also found in Sau Mau Ping in a separate operation, which led to the arrest of a third man.
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“We believe the cocaine was shipped into Hong Kong from South America with speedboats, after the drugs arrived near the city’s waters, as the drugs had been carefully wrapped with tape and packed in waterproof nylon sacks,” said Ng Kwok-cheung, senior superintendent of the narcotics bureau.
Ng said he believed the drugs had arrived recently as the sacks were still damp.
Police stopped the first man who was pushing a trolley with 150 bricks of cocaine outside an industrial building in Fo Tan on Friday. They found an additional 450 bricks inside the building.
The next day police seized another 42 identically packaged bricks in a residential unit in Sha Tin after intercepting the second man, Ng said.
The two men will appear in court on Monday to face a charge of drug trafficking.
In 2012 police seized nearly 650kg of cocaine worth HK$760 million. The year before that, another record bust of nearly half a tonne of cocaine was seized.
Separately, police intercepted the third man at a public housing estate in Sau Mau Ping with 1kg of methamphetamine and discovered another 28kg of methamphetamine and 400 grams of heroin in his flat.
Narcotics bureau superintendent Raymond Chou said the drugs had been hidden inside tea-leaf packaging and police believed they had been imported from Southeast Asia.
Chou said some of the drugs had already been sold on the local market.
Travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic have pushed drug syndicates to transport drugs in bulk rather than in small portions, according to police. They have reported finding more cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, heroin and methamphetamine in Hong Kong.
Last Thursday, police seized HK$1.4 million worth of suspected ice and heroin from a Tsim Sha Tsui hotel room believed to have been used as a drugs storage and distribution centre.
The amount of drugs seized by both police and customs last year has surged. Authorities discovered close to 1,500kg of methamphetamine in 2020 – nine times what they confiscated in 2019. The amount of cannabis uncovered tripled to 1,071kg from 374kg, while the amount of heroin seized skyrocketed eight times, from 47kg to 368kg.
Police recorded 1,149 drug cases in 2020 and arrested 1,824 people, representing an 80 per cent increase in the number of such arrests compared to 2019.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong police arrest man in HK$1.4 million drugs seizure in Tsim Sha Tsui hotel room
- Hong Kong police grab HK$20 million worth of heroin, arrest couple in raid of New Territories flat
- Hong Kong police seize more than HK$63 million worth of suspected cocaine, shut down drugs storage facility
- Hong Kong customs makes biggest sea smuggling bust of year, seizing HK$20 million worth of contraband bound for mainland China