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August 24, 2017

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200 kilograms of ketamine seized in airport bust

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Aviation Police Office (APO) said yesterday that it busted a huge ketamine trafficking ring, seizing 200 kilograms of the drug, worth NT$500 million at market price, this past Saturday at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Authorities noted that this case is by far the largest ketamine-trafficking case by air freight in recent years.

The APO said the investigation was carried out with prosecutors and the Customs Administration, noting that a suspect, surnamed Huang, was arrested over allegations of trafficking drugs from overseas.

Authorities said aviation police and customs officers early Saturday morning discovered a shipment from Hong Kong containing 244 cartons of women's boots, and sent the first 100 cartons to the airport's cargo station for X-ray examination as per standard procedure.

Aviation police and customs noticed that the desiccant material — commonly used to keep materials being shipped dry — inside the shoes showed an abnormal result while undergoing X-ray examination. Officials opened the cartons and reagent-tested the "desiccants," discovering that it was actually ketamine, authorities said.

After investigators found 72 kilograms of ketamine hidden inside the first 100 opened cartons, they suspected the remaining 144 cartons might be using a similar method to conceal drugs, and thus requested that all personnel working at the cargo station examine the cartons. A total of 200 kilograms of ketamine was found in the 244 cartons of boots.

Aviation police said on Saturday afternoon that a police officer pretending to be a delivery man took the cargo to a warehouse near the airport, in accordance with an address noted on the shipping bill.

The suspect opened the gate of the warehouse and let the "delivery man" unload the cargo inside the warehouse. Once Huang signed the receipt, more police officers arrived and arrested Huang, the aviation police said.

Huang is currently being investigated by the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office, authorities said, adding that the investigators are expanding their search in the hopes of finding the mastermind behind the drug-trafficking case.

Under Taiwan's anti-drug regulations, people caught trafficking drugs will face a minimum of five years in prison.

Aviation police said they suspect that demand for drugs is rising in Taiwan as the holiday season of Christmas and New Year's Eve is approaching.

This is the second largest drug bust at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in two months. The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) and the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors' Office in November busted Taiwan's largest drug trafficking case in 20 years, seizing 600 bricks of heroin (around NT$9 billion at market prices) discovered in a cargo aircraft at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

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