It’s a drug bust that also involved a bust bust.
On Monday, three Hongkongers were arrested for possession of narcotics in two separate police raids. Chinese officials announced that the suspects were carrying HK$1 million (~$153,000) worth of drugs suspected to be heroin and crystal meth.
A 48-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking during an evening ambush of a public flat at Wah Ming Estate in Fanling. There, police found 10 grams of “ice” stashed inside a sculpture of Mao Zedong’s head.
Before the raid, police intercepted a man outside the apartment with what appeared to be 14 grams of crystal meth inside his bag. Separately, a special duty police squad caught a 66-year-old man for drug trafficking heroin in the Wan Chai district.
This is certainly not the first time drug smugglers have gotten creative about how to hide their stashes. In the past police have found narcotics hidden inside tombstones for the Virgin Mary, a statue of Jesus Christ, and even a concrete sculpture of a snail. Apparently this practice goes back a millennium. Researchers recently stumbled upon a 1,000-year-old “ritual bundle” in South America that contained a number of psychotropic substances, including cocaine.
But there’s something deeply ironic about finding drugs inside a bust of the Communist leader. Mao is widely credited with eliminating opioid addiction in China when he came to power by decreasing demand for the drug and cutting off its suppliers. Historically, though, Hong Kong has continued to grapple with its narcotics problem; the city has harsh penalties for drug traffickers, including a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine. (~$637,000 USD).
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