Hong Kong police have detained more than 180 people, including 17 students, and seized over HK$50 million worth of illegal drugs during a pre-summer holiday operation.
As part of the two-week operation by the narcotics bureau and six police regions, officers raided a cannabis farm in Pat Heung on June 1, uncovering about 600 plants.
On June 8, they also broke up a cocaine factory in Kowloon City, seizing 2.3kg of the drug.
More than 223kg of various drugs worth HK$51.2 million in total were found in 153 cases, with the haul including heroin, cannabis, crystal meth, or Ice, ketamine and over 1,100 pills. The operation ran from May 30 until Sunday.
The suspects, 160 men and 24 women, aged 15 to 68, included 13 under age 18.
Investigators believed the drugs would be sold for local consumption and they had yet to find out how many syndicates were involved in the cases.
Chief Inspector Alexandra Ip Sau-lan said the force was concerned that drug syndicates could make use of young people’s thirst for quick cash and recruit them during the summer holiday.
She reminded people that drug trafficking was a serious offence and a conviction could lead to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine.
Police noted that the largest seizure involved cannabis.
As the force had pointed out before, Ip said, there had been a growing number of cannabis users in recent years locally, especially among youths, who might have misunderstood that the substance was less harmful than other drugs.
Police said they believed the legalisation of the drug in some Western countries was one of the reasons behind the trend.
“I would like to reiterate that the Narcotics Division has pointed out multiple times that cannabis has been being regulated strictly by the United Nations. Its derivatives are also regulated by law.”
Ip said youngsters could have easier contact with online traffickers during the summer holiday and the coronavirus pandemic when they had to stay at home. She reminded parents to pay more attention to their children during the holiday to stop them going astray.