Customs officers arrested three men – including a suspected Sun Yee On triad member – in a series of raids around Hong Kong on Monday that netted some HK$8.7 million (US$1.1 million) worth of marijuana.
Authorities are investigating whether the 42kg of cannabis buds and resin came from an illegal marijuana farm in the city that was shut down last week.
A law enforcement source said it was possible the illegal drugs came from the indoor marijuana farm in the New Territories before it was raided and some HK$45 million worth of cannabis there was seized. The force said the 5,000 sq ft farm was the largest of its kind to be found in the city in a decade.
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On Monday evening, customs officers intercepted two men aged 29 and 33 in Tai Kok Tsui, and seized about 1kg of cannabis buds in a plastic bag that the older man was allegedly carrying.
The pair were escorted to a nearby flat, where another 3kg of buds and 300 grams of cannabis resin were found. The two suspects were Indian nationals, and held recognisance forms – a temporary identification document issued by the Immigration Department that permits the bearer to remain in the city.
In a follow-up raid on Monday night, another 5kg of cannabis buds and 1kg of resin were found in a Tsuen Wan industrial unit.
At the same time, another team of customs officers intercepted a 43-year-old man near a housing estate in Ma On Shan and found a further 32kg of cannabis in one of the flats in the estate.
The third man is believed to be a Sun Yee On triad member and part of a local trafficking syndicate.
Fong Heung-wing, head of customs’ drug investigation division, said a preliminary investigation indicated the Ma On Shan flat was used by the gang as its main storage centre for illegal drugs, which explained why the bulk of the contraband was found there.
He said the Tai Kok Tsui flat was used as a packaging and distribution centre from which drugs were supplied to the underground market.
He added that the drugs were believed to have been taken to the Tsuen Wan industrial unit from the Ma On Shan flat before being delivered to the apartment in Tai Kok Tsui.
Fong said he believed the Tsuen Wan unit served as a “firewall” to prevent local authorities from discovering the Sha Tin storage centre.
The three men were arrested on suspicion of trafficking in a dangerous drug – an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine.
As of midday on Tuesday, the three suspects were still being held for questioning and had not been charged.
In the first five months of this year, customs officers seized 114kg of cannabis, up 8.6 per cent from 105kg in the same period last year.
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