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Is Macao becoming a hub for drug traffickers?

A slew of recent arrests at the airport indicate the SAR may be getting used as a thoroughfare for drug smugglers.

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A slew of recent arrests at the airport indicate the SAR may be getting used as a thoroughfare for drug smugglers.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

Despite Macao’s limited air connections, the Judiciary Police believe the SAR could be being used as a platform for international drug trafficking networks due to the number of people being arrested for drug possession at Macau International Airport, TDM reports.

There have been at least five arrests in December alone, with the latest alleged trafficker arriving from Thailand with 2.5kg of heroin in his hand luggage. The haul had a street value of 3.65 million patacas.

The source and final destination of the seized heroin are not known, and the investigation is ongoing. The man in question, aged 27, denies the charges.

In late November, a Ugandan national travelling from Malaysia was arrested at Macao’s airport after suspicious oval-shaped objects appeared across his torso during a body scan. 

Police escorted the man to a local hospital, where more than 1.3kg of cocaine was reportedly “discharged from his body.” A similar scenario occurred just days earlier, involving a man from Suriname.

[See more: Official claims drug use in Macao is ‘not serious’]

Both men admitted to swallowing packets of cocaine, the Macau Times Daily reported earlier this month. The cocaine being transported had a combined street value of 8 million patacas.

According to United Nations estimates only 13 percent of heroin shipments and 28 to 40 percent of cocaine shipments are intercepted, suggesting that the volume of drugs passing through Macao may be much higher. One assessment made at the US-Mexico border suggested that as few as 5 in every 100 drug couriers were busted.

Meanwhile, outside of the airport, recent drug trafficking-related arrests have included a man and woman from Taiwan found with eight wine bottles full of suspected liquid cocaine in their hotel room.

In October, the Social Welfare Bureau said Macao did not have a domestic problem with drug abuse, claiming there were just 61 “registered drug users” in the city at the time.

However, the local media frequently reports drug busts in the SAR – with those apprehended often appearing to target the domestic market. Three Filipinos were arrested last month for selling a raft of different drugs (from cocaine to methamphetamine to LSD) at Macao’s night clubs. 

 

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