Suspected Tanzanian faces life in prison for drugs haul

09Jan 2020
The Guardian
Suspected Tanzanian faces life in prison for drugs haul

A MAN from Tanzania is facing life imprisonment in Hong Kong after being found with cocaine upon arrival at the airport.

The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department said the 44-year-old man was found concealing 980 grams of cocaine pellets with a street price of USD128, 578.9 (over 200,000,000/-) in his body.

The man was the sixth suspected drug trafficker picked up at Hong Kong International Airport in a week. Customs officers seized more than HK$14 million worth of cocaine in the previous five cases.

The suspect was intercepted during customs clearance on Monday. He had flown into the city from Tanzania via Ethiopia. The suspect was taken to a public hospital, where he discharged 980 grams of pellets of suspected cocaine.

A department spokesman said on Tuesday the drugs had an estimated street value of HK$1 million.

“Initial investigation showed the drugs were for local consumption,” he said. However, the spokesman did not clearly say whether the man is a Tanzanian national or citizen of another country.

The man was 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.

On New Year’s Eve, customs officers at the airport arrested a woman and seized 4.5kg of cocaine concealed in four boxes of chocolate in her backpack. She arrived from Dubai.

On New Year’s Day, a man who arrived from Brazil via France was arrested after 4.4kg of cocaine was found in false compartments in his suitcase and briefcase.

Another man, who arrived from Ethiopia, was picked up on the same day. He had 1.2kg of cocaine concealed in his body.

The following day, customs officers arrested two men, who had flown in from Ethiopia, and seized 4kg of cocaine. According to the department, 3.2kg of the drug was found in a false compartment in check-in luggage of one of the pair. The other suspect had 800 grams of the drug concealed in his body.

Meanwhile, customs officers inspected a parcel arriving by air from Malaysia on Saturday and found 2kg of suspected methamphetamine hidden inside seven cans of food products.

In a follow-up investigation, customs officers on Tuesday arrested a 27-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man in Siu Sai Wan, a Hong Kong suburb, in connection with the case.

The department’s spokesman said customs would enhance inspections at various control points to fight drug trafficking before and after the Lunar New Year.

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