Hong Kong teenagers increasingly involved in illegal import of marijuana and cannabis products, customs officers warn

Clifford Lo
·3-min read

Hong Kong teenagers are increasingly involved in the illegal import of marijuana and cannabis products, the customs department has warned, with several youths arrested in connection with part of an estimated HK$45 million (US$5.8 million) worth of the drugs brought in via air over the past four months.

The 380kg of the banned narcotic substances seized between July and November represented an increase of 211 per cent from the first half of this year, a senior customs official said on Thursday.

Over that period, five secondary school students, aged 15 to 17, were arrested for allegedly collecting parcels containing the drugs during decoy operations in which customs officers posed as couriers making deliveries.

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Two students under 18 years of age were apprehended in the first half of the year.

Acting senior superintendent Rita Li Yim-ping of the department’s syndicate crimes investigation unit said officers had noticed an increasing number of teenagers were involved in drug-trafficking this year, a trend she called “worrying”.

“Some claimed they were helping friends collect [the parcels], while others received monetary rewards,” she said, adding payments ranged from hundreds to thousands of Hong Kong dollars for each package.

Biggest cannabis seizure in a decade at Hong Kong International Airport

The trend has led the customs department to issue an alert reminding teenagers not to be involved in drug-trafficking. Li added they should not agree to receive mailed goods for others and should avoid giving out their home address for that purpose.

Between July 1 and November 9, customs officers at the airport’s cargo terminal confiscated 380kg of marijuana and cannabis products with an estimated street value of HK$45 million, more than triple the 122kg, worth HK$23 million, seized in the first half of the year.

The Customs office in North Point. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
The Customs office in North Point. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Li said this year’s total haul had already doubled the amount seized at the terminal in the whole of last year, when officers confiscated 221kg of illegal narcotics worth HK$30 million. That tally included products containing cannabis such as hemp oil, food and drinks.

She said members of the public should pay attention to the ingredients of products bought online to avoid violating the law.

Police reach new heights with biggest cannabis bust in Hong Kong history

Nearly 90 per cent of this year’s seizure at the airport were mailed from Canada and the United States, according to Assistant Superintendent Yuen Wai-ming of customs’ airport command. More than 50 per cent of the seizure was cannabis buds, while 30 per cent was herbal cannabis and 5 per cent cannabis products.

To avoid detection, he said the drug was typically camouflaged as coffee, milk powder or oats and packed into vacuum-sealed bags, or concealed in electronic devices such as speakers or coffee machines.

He said the department would continue to use advanced technology in customs clearance and deploy sniffer dogs to help frontline officers carry out inspections.

In Hong Kong, trafficking in a dangerous drug carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million (US$645,000) fine.

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