Hong Kong nabs $98 million in cocaine in city's biggest bust

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Hong Kong authorities seized a record 649 kilograms of cocaine worth HK$760 million ($98 million) from a container that originated in Ecuador, the government said Friday. Three people were arrested.

The cocaine haul, the biggest seizure from a single bust in Hong Kong, was found after the US Drug Enforcement Administration told local authorities suspicious shipments were headed for the city, Hong Kong customs drug investigator John Lee said at a briefing.

The drugs were believed to be en route to China and southeast Asia, Lee said. Hong Kong customs agents have been working with the DEA and South American authorities since the start of the year to combat drug trafficking.

"We have to be a step ahead of the traffickers," Lee said. "It is uncommon that containers are used to ship drugs, but the volume in each shipment is very large."

"Hong Kong is not a drug transport hub," Lee said.

Hong Kong police seized HK$600 million worth of cocaine in an operation last September. On July 3, a 63-year-old man arriving from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was arrested after agents found almost two kilograms of cocaine worth HK$2.2 million hidden in his underwear and shoes, according to the customs agency website.

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