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Shanghai Customs seizes `ice' traffickers
( 2003-11-04 22:23) (China Daily)

Three people have been collared in Shanghai Customs' biggest drug seizure for the year -- 959 grams of "ice,'' at the Pudong International Airport.

"It is the largest drug smuggling case uncovered so far this year,'' Sun Qun, a customs publicity official, told China Daily yesterday when revealing the arrests.

The three suspects, two from Japan and one from Hong Kong, were handed over to local police last week and are still in custody, Sun said.

Police inquiries about the suspects and origin of the drug are continuing, she said.

On September 25, surveillance police with the customs unit discovered several small bags being carried by a Japanese passenger, who was passing through immigration on his way back to Japan.

The man and his companion were arrested by customs officials on suspicion of trafficking drugs.

A later search uncovered a total of 12 plastic bags.

The Hong Kong person, who supplied the drug, was arrested by local police days later after a tip-off from the Japanese, customs officials say.

The Shanghai Drug Inspection Centre later verified that the crystal material in the bags was "ice.''

The drug, formally known as deoxidized ephedrine, consists of white crystals and is highly addictive.

It and heroin are the most common types of drugs being uncovered by local customs, Sun said.

Lu Peijun, director of Shanghai Customs, said the fight against drug smuggling is never-ending.

According to Lu, Shanghai Customs also recently cracked a big case involving psychotropic substances, confiscating more than 8,000 diazepam pills.

The tranquilizer drugs were found in a group of five international parcels on their way to Africa. They were mixed with ordinary medicine for fevers and colds, Lu said.

Customs officials later discovered a series of parcels filled with tranquilizers heading for the same destination shortly after.

Lu said the central government has told customs to work more closely with police to uncover drug trafficking and smuggling operations.

Since mid-August, Shanghai Customs has been involved in an intense fight against smuggling as part of a nationwide campaign organized by the General Administration of Customs.

During the past two months, the customs authorities have cracked 19 smuggling cases and handed 25 suspects over to local police, sources say.

The cases involved drugs with a street value of 79 million yuan (US$9.6 million), they said.

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