Thu, Jun 07, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Authorities probe alleged drug smuggling at airport

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Loading docks 24 to 29 at the Farglory Free Trade Zone at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport are pictured yesterday.

Photo: Tony Yao, Taipei Times

Authorities have launched an investigation into allegations that customs officials and a Farglory Group (遠雄集團) cargo shipper assisted in the smuggling of narcotics following reports of security breaches and unauthorized shipment transfers without customs clearance at a Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport warehouse.

Officials of the Ministry of Finance’s Customs Administration yesterday admitted that security breaches and deviations from customs procedures occurred on May 7, saying that a judicial probe has been initiated.

While awaiting transshipment via air freight to Los Angeles at the airport in a warehouse owned by Farglory Logistics (遠雄物流), a container was transported to an unknown location and returned to the warehouse four hours later, the Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) reported.

The container had 600 mailbags with a total declared weight of 1,975kg originating from China’s state-owned postal service, China Post Group (中國郵政), which on May 7 arrived via sea freight at Keelung Port and was transported to the warehouse in the Farglory Free Trade Zone (遠雄自由貿易港區) at the airport, the Liberty Times said.

That same day, the container was illegally transported outside by a truck and was later returned, but missing 500 mailbags — about 1,300kg of cargo, the newspaper said.

“This is a known practice for smuggling contraband into Taiwan — containers are taken without a customs inspection or clearance,” a veteran police investigator, who requested anonymity, was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “We suspect they were smuggling either narcotics or firearms.”

“Each mailbag can carry up to 25kg to 30kg of goods. Even if each contained only 2kg of narcotics, that would mean about 1,000kg of drugs entered Taiwan through this operation,” the investigator said, adding that the contraband was likely heroin or another similarly high-priced narcotic.

Some officials pointed to possible negligence or collusion by personnel of the Customs Administration, which has jurisdiction over the airport, as well as possible collusion by staff at the warehouse.

Customs Administration Deputy Director Hsieh Ling-yuan (謝鈴媛) yesterday admitted that the breach had taken place and told a news briefing that a judicial investigation was under way.

Hsieh said her office has imposed a two-month ban on Farglory Logistics from handling transshipments at the facility.

However, she disputed the details of the report, saying that the container was missing for just more than one hour, that it originally contained only 128 mailbags and that the incident occurred on May 8.

“After the container was returned to the warehouse, it was inspected by customs officers with an X-ray scan and sniffer dogs, and no illegal drugs were detected,” Hsieh said.

Customs officials admitted that there was no way of inspecting the contents of the container, as the mailbags had already reached their destination in the US.

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