Hong Kong customs officers have arrested two men and seized HK$2.25 million (US$288,460) worth of suspected liquid cocaine disguised as health food products and airmailed to the city from South America.
The 1.7kg haul was discovered when customs officers examined a parcel arriving from Suriname at the Kwai Chung Speedpost Operation Centre last Wednesday.
The parcel was declared as foodstuff and the batch of suspected liquid cocaine was found concealed inside five bottles, according to the Customs and Excise Department.
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Upon follow-up investigation, customs officers arrested two men, aged 22 and 25, in connection with the case on Monday in Sha Tin.
During a raid on the home of the younger suspect in Tseung Kwan O, officers also seized a small quantity of suspected ketamine along with drug packaging equipment. The investigation is ongoing.
With borders largely closed and passenger air travel slowed to a trickle due to the coronavirus pandemic, traffickers have increasingly turned to shipping drugs into the city via airmail over the past year.
In a statement, the department warned members of the public against accepting cash in return for handling parcels that could be tied to drug trafficking.
“They must not accept hiring or delegation from another party to carry controlled items into or out of Hong Kong. They are also reminded not to carry unknown items for other people, nor to release their personal data or home address to others for receiving parcels or goods.”
In Hong Kong, trafficking in dangerous drugs carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine.
In 2020, local authorities confiscated 1,269kg of cocaine, down 24.4 per cent from 1,678kg in 2019.