Fourteen suspects belonging to two gangs were recently arrested for smuggling codeine cough syrup from Macao to the mainland, and the local and mainland police seized 741 bottles in the operation, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Ho Chan Nam said during a regular press conference on Friday.
According to Ho, Gongbei Customs recently launched a cross-border joint operation with the Zhuhai Public Security Bureau and Macao Judiciary Police to bust a string of cases of smuggling codeine cough syrup to the mainland.
Ho said that Gongbei Customs officers busted three cases of “travellers” smuggling codeine cough syrup at the Gongbei border checkpoint on April 5, confiscating 56 bottles.
Gongbei Customs immediately set up a special investigation team to look into the three cases. The team arrested three codeine cough syrup buyers at a shop near a hotel in Gongbei on the same day and seized 249 bottles of codeine cough syrup from the shop.
According to Ho, the Gongbei Customs and Zhuhai Public Security Bureau and Macao Judicial Police carried out another cross-border operation on June 12 in Zhuhai, Macao, Shanwei and Dongguan, resulting in the arrests of eight suspects and the confiscation of 436 bottles of codeine cough syrup.
Ho said the suspects confessed that they were hired by key gang members in Shenzhen, Shanwei and other places to work for the gang in Zhuhai and Macao to smuggle the codeine cough syrup from shops in Macao near the Barrier Gate checkpoint to Zhuhai.
The gang “hired” a number of people crossing the Macao-Zhuhai border to carry a small quantity of bottles of codeine cough syrup each time. According to preliminary investigations, 552 litres of codeine cough syrup in 4,600 bottles were smuggled by the gang from Macao to the mainland.
According to Ho, Gongbei Customs warned that codeine cough syrup is prone to cause addiction after long-term use, causing hallucinations, and excessive use may even lead to death.
According to the mainland law enforcement agencies, compounded oral liquid preparations containing codeine have been classified as psychotropic drugs since May 1, 2015.
Codeine cough syrup is a prescription drug in some jurisdictions. However, it is prohibited in Macao.