Oil ploy fails in $150m meth bust

Local | Marco Lam 30 Sep 2021

Marco Lam

Customs officers seized HK$150 million worth of liquid meth disguised as coconut oil at the airport in what is the largest bust involving the drug in nearly two decades.

In order to hide from law enforcers, the traffickers went as far as starting a company in Mexico, setting up their own production line so that they would look like legitimate exporters of coconut oil - a product gaining popularity among health enthusiasts in recent years.

Officers found the 230 kilograms of liquid methamphetamine at the airport on September 14, when they inspected an air cargo consignment that was declared as 7,680 bottles of coconut oil from Mexico. It caught their attention as imports of coconut oil from Mexico are not common.

An X-ray scan revealed irregularities, as some bottles appeared to have higher densities than others.

A further inspection found liquid meth concealed inside 1,920 of the bottles. The remaining 75 percent of the bottles contained oils.

"The so-called coconut oil inside the bottles is not coconut oil at all. Instead, it is corn oil and rapeseed oil, which is cheaper in cost," said Chu Ka-wing, the customs' divisional commander at the airport.

Packaging for all the bottles looked exactly the same. The bottles had not been opened prior to their inspection.

Customs believe that the drug syndicate has been in operation for three months and may have set up their own production line to try to hide from law enforcers and smuggle drugs alongside the dodgy products.

The syndicate could have planned to send the liquid meth to other regions, especially those where prices of the drug are higher.

A 45-year-old male truck driver in connection with the case was arrested on the same day. The investigation is ongoing and he has been released on bail.

A customs spokesman reminded the public to stay alert and not to participate in trafficking activities for payment.



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