In today’s cocaine smuggling world, transporting the white in liquid form is growing in popularity. This is done to slip weight past the detection of law enforcement looking for suspicious packages with x-ray and ultrasound scanners. Powder cocaine is highly soluble and half a kilo can be totally dissolved in a liter of water, creating a clear mixture. 90 percent of the coke can be retrieved and turned back into powder through filtering. Three men in Hong Kong tried this in November, but were nabbed by customs agents.
The 62 kilogram seizure is a record for Hong Kong customs. The liquid coke was transported in a 400 kg industrial mixer from Colombia via the United States, according to the South China Morning Post. The mixer was taken for further inspection when it arrived at an unnamed Hong Kong airport. An x-ray scan revealed thick layers of plastic inside and traces of cocaine were detected on the surface of the mixer. The 62 kg of liquid coke is said to be worth $65 million in Hong Kong dollars (a little more than $8 million USD).
The three men arrested in the investigation that followed the seizure were between the ages of 33 and 38. They posted bail and were released. Investigators are still probing into the case, trying to find the destination of the package. Furthermore customs will be deploying more officers to checkpoints to crack down on drug trafficking during the holidays. “We do not rule out that there will be more arrests,” said Lee Kwok-keung, head of the customs drug investigation bureau’s airport investigation group. “There is no evidence showing Hong Kong has become a transit hub of dangerous drugs.”
Though customs feels that way, recent major cocaine busts point in the other direction. The Morning Post reports:
In 2014, customs detected 53 cocaine cases in Hong Kong. In the first 11 months this year, there were 96 cases.
In August, customs found 760 grams of suspected liquid cocaine in an inbound parcel from Brazil intercepted at the airport.
In October last year, customs at the airport found 20kg of cocaine solution in bottles of skin and hair care products in the suitcase of a tourist arriving from South America.