More than HK$11 million (US$1.4 million) worth of cocaine was found concealed in seven boxes of chocolate biscuits airmailed to Hong Kong from Europe, a customs official said on Tuesday.
The 7.7kg haul of illicit narcotics was found among 160 boxes of biscuits during an inspection of a consignment sent from the Netherlands at the airport’s cargo terminal on Wednesday last week.
Acting senior inspector Yau Wing-yeung, of the customs department’s drug investigation bureau, said the shipment was opened for inspection after an X-ray examination yielded suspicious images.
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“A slab of cocaine, weighing about 1.1kg, was found under a layer of chocolate biscuits in each of the seven boxes involved,” he said.
Two men, aged 65 and 30, were arrested in connection with the case on Thursday last week and Monday, respectively.
Customs officers are investigating whether the cocaine was destined for the local market.
Illegal drugs with a total estimated street value of more than HK$550 million were seized at Hong Kong airport’s cargo terminal in the first half of this year, as coronavirus-related travel restrictions forced international syndicates to use airborne shipments rather than human couriers.
Figures showed 1.47 tonnes of illegal drugs were seized from air cargo packages posted into and out of the city in the first six months of this year, up 127 per cent from the 645kg found in the same period last year.
A law enforcement source said the price of cocaine on the city’s underground market had gone up from HK$1,100 a gram in May, to more than HK$1,400 a gram recently.
“The higher price indicates there is a shortage of illegal drugs on the market,” the source said, adding that he believed the drug shortage was the result of customs and police officers stepping up enforcement action and making more seizures in recent months.
Last Friday, police confiscated HK$23 million worth of ketamine and arrested a suspected drug trafficker in a Kwun Tong warehouse.
And earlier this month, customs officers made their largest seizure so far this year involving airborne drug shipments, bagging about HK$45 million worth of various drugs and arresting a male suspect. The haul included about 31kg of liquid cocaine that was found concealed in 45 red wine bottles during an inspection of an air cargo consignment arriving in the city from the United States on September 7.
Last month, police also made their largest seizure of dangerous drugs this year, swooping down on a factory building in Fanling, where a haul worth more than HK$170 million was found hidden inside bottled drinks. A total of 178kg of heroin, Ice – or crystal methamphetamine – and ketamine were seized in the operation.