Two people at a tech company in Miaoli County have been indicted in a case from 2021, when a large illegal shipment of a drug known as laughing gas was seized at the border, prosecutors said on Thursday.
The company’s owner, surnamed Wei (魏), and an employee surnamed Hsiao (蕭) were indicted on charges of attempting to obtain unlawful gain by fraud, the Miaoli District Prosecutors’ Office said in a statement.
The charges stem from a case in 2021, when Keelung customs officials intercepted and seized 54 tonnes of nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, which had been shipped in three containers from Hong Kong, prosecutors said.
Photo: Chen En-hui, Taipei Times
The contents of the containers had been falsely declared as shielding gases, which are used in industrial welding to prevent bubbles and splatters, the statement said.
The laughing gas, which could have filled 10,800 5-liter canisters, was the largest volume ever seized by customs officers in the nation, it said.
A special task force assigned to the case later obtained a warrant to search the tech company in Miaoli County, and Wei and Hsiao were summoned for questioning, it added.
They denied any involvement in the case, and said the laughing gas might have been mistakenly shipped to Taiwan by the seller, prosecutors said.
However, after examination of documents, the task force concluded that the two suspects had sought to smuggle the laughing gas into the country for illegal gain, the statement said.
It is illegal to purchase, sell and use nitrous oxide in Taiwan.
The gas is used legitimately in hospitals, at dental surgeries and in professional kitchens, but supplying it for its psychoactive effects is illegal.
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