A HK$120 million (US$15.4 million) haul of crystal meth was found hidden inside five solar panels sent to Hong Kong from Mexico, customs officials said on Friday.
The 180kg haul was the second air consignment of the drug airmailed into the city from Mexico in a month, and could have been destined for other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, where its value would have been higher, Superintendent Lee Man-lok said.
Officers from the Customs and Excise Department’s drug investigation bureau arrested three men in connection with the case. All were released on bail.
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The seizure came less than a month after the department found more than HK$150 million worth of liquid methamphetamine disguised as coconut oil, which had also been flown into the city from Mexico.
The latest haul was found in a consignment marked as solar lights that arrived in the city on Tuesday.
“Based on our experiences, it was rare that solar lights were shipped into Hong Kong from Mexico. This raised our suspicion. We then selected the consignment for further inspection,” assistant superintendent Chu Ka-wing, of the department’s air cargo division, said.
She added officers found five solar panels instead of solar lights when they inspected the wooden case.
“Officers did not find any cables or junction boxes in the panels. That means the panels cannot function,” Chu said.
Officers found nine bags of crystal meth, also known as Ice, in each panel and each bag contained 4kg of the drug, she added.
“A total of 180kg of Ice was seized. The haul has an estimated street value of HK$120 million,” she said.
On the same day, customs officers arrested two men when they attempted to collect the consignment at the airport’s cargo terminal. A third man, who runs a local logistics company, was also detained.
As part of the investigation, Lee said officers had discovered that the company was authorised to pick up and take the shipment to a warehouse.
Customs officers at the airport have seized about 3.1 tonnes of illegal drugs in the first nine months of this year, compared with about 3.4 tonnes in the whole of 2020.
In Hong Kong, trafficking in a dangerous drug is punishable by life in prison and a HK$5 million fine.