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Cross-strait ketamine-trafficking ring busted, NT$15 mil. seized

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) yesterday announced that it busted a cross-strait drug trafficking operation, seizing 24.7 kilograms of ketamine, worth NT$15 million at current market prices, at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport last Saturday.

A suspect surnamed Lu, who allegedly was responsible for picking up the drugs in Kaohsiung, was arrested by the CIB and is currently being investigated by prosecutors.

The CIB's Third Investigation Brigade said mainland Chinese police recently informed the bureau that they intercepted information claiming that two suspicious air express deliveries were to be sent from Guangdong province to a receiver named Lin Jun-ji (林俊吉) in Fongshan District (鳳山區) of Kaohsiung City (高雄市).

The CIB noted that the mainland police suspected that the two deliveries supposedly carrying 210 bags of tea leaves were actually loaded with 40 bags of ketamine, and police further discovered that another two air express deliveries of the same brand of tea leaves were also loaded on the same flight to Taiwan.

Cross-strait Joint Investigation

Based on the intelligence information offered by the mainland Chinese police, the CIB dispatched investigators to the airport on Dec. 28 at 2 a.m. and intercepted the four packages of “tea leaves.”

The investigators first opened two of the packages and found 40 tea bags (around 20 kilograms), they also opened the packages addressed to Lin, and 596 bags of desiccant (around 4.7 kilograms) -- commonly used to keep materials dry. After testing the content of the tea bags and desiccant bags, the investigators confirmed that they contained ketamine, and seized the packages in a total of 24.7 kilograms of ketamine for investigation.

In order to lure the suspects out to claim the drugs, the CIB requested a delivery company to send packages to Kaohsiung as scheduled, the bureau said, noting that no one came out to sign for the packages.

The CIB therefore checked on the surveillance footage around the address labeled on the shipment, and arrested a suspect surnamed Lu who allegedly was responsible for picking up the deliveries.

The CIB said Lu claimed that he had signed for three shipments of ketamine, about 100 kilograms, in December, noting that every time he signs for the shipment, someone would pay him NT$10,000.

The bureau transferred Lu to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office on charges of violating anti-drug laws, and is currently probing the source of the drugs.

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Vacuum-packed Chinese tea bags are displayed on a table at the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) in Taipei, yesterday. The CIB recently busted a cross-strait ketamine-trafficking operation, seizing a total of 24.7 kilograms of drugs, worth NT$15 million at current market prices. (CNA)

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