Hongkongers promised free tour of Maldives in return for smuggling 7kg of cocaine into city, police say

Three Hongkongers were arrested for trying to smuggle 7kg of suspected cocaine into the city after being promised a free tour of the Maldives in return, police said on Tuesday.

Two men, aged 21 and 23, and a 21-year-old woman were intercepted at the airport’s customs clearance counter at about 9am on Monday after they collected their check-in luggage.

Senior Inspector Chan Mei-shi of the force’s Narcotics Bureau said 16 bags carrying the drugs were in secret compartments of the men’s suitcases. She said the consignment had an estimated street value of HK$8 million (US$1 million).

“We believe the men were hired by a drug trafficking syndicate and were responsible for bringing the haul into Hong Kong from the Maldives,” she said.

On Tuesday afternoon the two men were charged with drug trafficking and the woman was charged with conspiracy to traffic drugs. The trio was scheduled to appear at West Kowloon Court on Wednesday.

Chan said an initial investigation showed the three were recruited by a syndicate via a friend.

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“They were offered free return tickets to the Maldives together with free accommodation and food,” she said, adding the trio were paid from HK$10,000 to HK$50,000 each as a reward and provided with a tour of the archipelago nation.

With the approach of Christmas and the new year, Chan appealed to youngsters not to fall for criminal get-rich-quick schemes.

“Criminals will offer youngsters huge rewards to lure them into bringing illegal drugs into or out of Hong Kong,” Chan said.

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“Drug trafficking is a serious offence and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine.”

According to the latest statistics, local authorities seized 537kg of cocaine in the first 10 months of this year, up 78.4 per cent compared with 301kg in the same period last year.

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