Two men accused of trafficking cocaine wrapped up as Christmas presents into Hong Kong are due in court on Monday.
Customs said they seized HK$30 million (US$3.8 million) worth of the addictive stimulant from the luggage of two men, who were arrested after arriving at the city's international airport on Friday.
The arrests came after police seized 75kg of cocaine over 10 days from a drug gang in the north of the city. Those drugs had a street value of more than HK$90 million.
Revealing details of the airport bust, the Customs and Excise Department said on Saturday that two 25-year-old male passengers landed at Hong Kong International Airport on the same flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday morning.
During the customs clearance, officers found a total of 24kg of the suspected cocaine in two of the men's checked-in bags, which was packaged into 25 blocks and disguised with Christmas decorations and festive wrapping paper.
The two men have each been charged with one count of trafficking a dangerous drug. They will appear at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court on Monday.
The bust led customs officials to warn of a spike in drug smuggling for the festive season.
"With the Christmas and New Year holidays approaching, there is a possibility that drug syndicates need to traffic in dangerous drugs urgently in order to meet increased demand during the long holidays," a spokesman for the department said.
"Customs will further step up enforcement action to combat transnational drug trafficking activities before the long holidays."
According to official statistics, customs and police seized 1,014kg of cocaine in the first six months of 2019, nearly three times the 355kg uncovered in the same period last year.
On Friday, police officers from the narcotics bureau and the Key Points and Search Division found 36 bags of cocaine hidden in a cargo container of cowhides during a raid at a logistics centre in Sheung Shui. The drugs were valued at HK$50 million.
The raid was carried out after police seized 35kg of cocaine and arrested six local men in two warehouses in Sheung Shui and Sha Tau Kok on November 28, which had an estimated street value of HK$43 million.
Six men, aged between 26 and 36, were charged with drug trafficking for their alleged connections to the earlier raid at Fanling Court on Monday.
Under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, trafficking in a dangerous drug is a serious offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of HK$5 million and life imprisonment.
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