Hong Kong Customs officials have discovered 217kg of cocaine, hidden inside a jet engine. The seizure, worth HK$246 million ($31.7 million), is the largest so far in 2020.
The jet engine arrived by sea from Ecuador sometime in March, although the shipping container was never claimed. Customs officials took possession of the container on 20th May; subsequently dismantling the engine and finding the cocaine hidden inside.
The engine was initially reported by local media as a Boeing 737 engine, although unconfirmed reports from DimSumDaily suggest the engine was engraved with “Boeing 707.”
The engine was considered unserviceable, owing to the age and poor internal condition. SCMP has reported that the engine was spray-painted to look new, however many internal components were missing.
When Customs drug officials opened the Internal Combustion Chamber, 217 packages of cocaine were discovered. Local authorities have stated that most of the narcotics were intended for overseas markets.
The shipment consignee is a Hong Kong-based trading company, according to SCMP. Customs officials are still searching for a director and employee of the company, who are believed to be unaccounted for.
At a press conference, Customs superintendent Barry Chu Yin-min told reporters that the trading company had drawn suspicion after ceasing communications with Customs.
“We believe the case is associated with a multi-national drug trafficking organisation, judging from its way of handling and the amount of drugs. The consignee even requested the courier company return the shipment to Ecuador after finding out about the inspections by our officers”Barry Chu Yin-min. Source: The Standard
The seaborne seizure is the largest since 2012, as well as being the first from an aircraft engine.