Police nab duo involved in smuggling codeine cough syrup

2020-07-02 03:47     Comment:0

A man and a woman were arrested on Tuesday for “hiring” several people crossing the Macau-Zhuhai border to smuggle bottles of codeine cough syrup to the mainland, Judiciary Police (PS) Cheong Kam Fai said during a special press conference yesterday.

The 38-year-old local female suspect surnamed Wong ran a shop selling so-called parallel trading goods. The 61-year-old local male suspect surnamed Cheoc was employed by the shop.

“Parallel trading” is a euphemism for smuggling or other kinds of unauthorised distribution channels. Parallel trade emerges where markets that can trade freely with each other sell the same goods at significantly different prices.

According to Cheong, following last month’s arrest of a local woman for renting a shop in the Barrier Gate to store codeine cough syrup and hiring locals exempted from the COVID-19 medical quarantine in Zhuhai to smuggle the product to the mainland, the Zhuhai Public Security Bureau (PSB) detained two men in the mainland recently through intelligence exchanges and seized a quantity of codeine cough syrup from them. The two confessed that they worked for a local woman who runs a parallel trading shop in the northern district in Macau to smuggle the syrup into the mainland.

The Drug Enforcement Division of the Judiciary Police immediately launched a joint investigation with the Macau Customs Service. Customs officers monitored the shop and questioned four people recently – Wong and Cheoc and two witnesses. A box containing 16 bottles of 120 ml. codeine cough syrup in the shop and HK$25,000 in cash were seized. The four people were taken to a PJ station for follow-up investigation on Tuesday.

Evidence seized from the parallel trading suspects such as bottles of codeine cough syrup, smartphones, a juice box and Hong Kong dollar notes are displayed during yesterday’s special press conference about the case at the pressroom of the Judiciary Police (PJ) headquarters. Photo: Iong Tat Choi 

10 ‘juice boxes’

Under questioning, Wong admitted that a man delivered 10 “juice boxes”, asking if the goods could be taken as parallel goods to designated points in the mainland. The parallel trader and the shop would be paid 30 and 60 patacas respectively for each box. Wong and Cheoc said they had arranged several parallel traders to deliver at least nine of the boxes to the mainland, but had so far not received any payment. Wong and Cheoc told the police that they did not know that the boxes contained codeine cough syrup, according to Cheong.

The two suspects were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) yesterday, facing a charge of trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances.

The sale of codeine cough syrup is illegal both in Macau and the mainland. 
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