The Macau Customs Service announced Wednesday they seized about 34 kg of raw ivory disguised as 583 “chocolate bars”, with an estimated street value of about 580,000 patacas.
Mak Vun In, a senior customs officer, announced the case in a special press conference held in Barra.
She was quoted by The Macau Post Daily as saying that this was the first time that local customs officers had found people illegally bringing raw ivory into the city by disguising the contraband as chocolate bars since the 1999 handover.
According to Mak, the 34 kg of ivory was discovered in the suitcases of two male South African visitors, aged 51 and 29.
Customs officers on duty in the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal on Tuesday afternoon saw the two men looking nervous when they headed towards the customs checkpoint after passing immigration when they arrived on a ferry from Hong Kong Airport, said Mak, adding that the officers immediately told the two men to put their suitcases through an X-ray machine.
The officers found eight boxes of “chocolate bars” in one suitcase while the other had seven boxes of “chocolate bars”, both suitcases containing 583 bars in total, said Mak, adding that the officers weighed some of the “chocolate bars” and thought they were “quite heavy”.
When the officers tried to break open some of the “chocolate bars” it proved impossible so the officers put some of the “chocolate bars” into hot water and the brown substance quickly melted. Once the brown substance was completely off, the bars turned out to consist of a hard, white material, Mak said, adding that later some staff from the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) were asked to check the bars. The IACM staff members confirmed them to be “high-quality” ivory.
According to Mak, the duo have been transferred to the Public Security Police (PSP) and have not revealed the final destination for the ivory.(macaunews)