Heroin-toting suspects escape customs officers

By Lauly Li ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Two suspects that allegedly carried bricks of heroin into Taiwan escaped from customs inspection custody upon arrival at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on the night of Aug. 10, the Aviation Police Bureau (APB) said yesterday.

The APB said the suspects, a man and a woman, took a flight from Bangkok to Taipei on Aug. 10. The pair’s suitcases were tagged by the airport’s automatic baggage security inspection upon arrival, the bureau said, explaining that the customs officers were due to open and inspect the pair’s tagged baggage. The female suspect, surnamed Chen, put her suitcase on a desk and said that she needed to exchange money and then left the inspection area. The other suspect surnamed Liao was talking on a phone while the customs officers were inspecting someone else’s baggage. Liao later told the customs officers that he needed to go to a lavatory and left the area. It wasn’t until the customs officers opened the pair’s suitcases and found bricks of heroin inside they realized that the suspects had escaped, according to reports. The APB said the two suspects allegedly hid 8,855 grams heroin in instant noodles packages.

The APB said that as there were seven or eight flights arriving at the same time, customs was very busy inspecting passengers’ suitcases. The bureau went on to say that after the pair escaped from the airport, it immediately formed a team to investigate their travel records and discovered that two other suspects, also a man and a woman, were scheduled to arrived Taiwan on the same flight number on Aug. 11.

The customs officers tagged the two other suspects’ suitcases upon arrival and later discovered a total of 8,938 grams of heroin in their suitcases, the APB said, noting that the two other suspects also hid the heroin inside packages of instant noodles. The two were later transferred to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office for further questioning, the APB said. The bureau said that the four suspects attempted to carry nearly 17 kilograms of heroin into the country, with a value of up to NT$1.3 billion.

According to the initial investigation, a drug-trafficking ring sought karaoke hostesses and employees to travel to Thailand and then carry drugs into Taiwan, the APB said, noting that it is currently tracking the whereabouts of Liao and Chen. The district prosecutors’ office is also investigating the drug-trafficking ring, the bureau added.