Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) – officials made a shocking discovery when they uncovered a substantial 11kg of suspected cocaine concealed within the cushions of an electric wheelchair. The estimated street value of this haul stands at a staggering $1.5 million (£1.26 million). The discovery unfolded as a 51-year-old man, who had arrived from the Caribbean nation of Sint Maarten via Paris, underwent customs clearance on a fateful Saturday.
The gravity of the situation became apparent as the man, now in custody, faces the potential of a life sentence if found guilty of drug trafficking. Customs officials acted swiftly upon their suspicions, prompting further examination of the wheelchair. Their suspicions were validated when they discovered evidence that the seat cushion and backrest had been tampered with and re-stitched.
The man, who is not a resident of Hong Kong and grapples with mobility issues, asserted that he was the director of a car rental company. He explained that the electric wheelchair had been loaned to him by a friend. Authorities have launched an investigation into this perplexing incident.
This significant drug seizure has led customs officials to announce intensified checks on visitors arriving from “high-risk regions” in their ongoing efforts to combat transnational drug trafficking activities.
Customs statistics from the previous year reveal that the number of drug-related cases detected during customs checks in 2022 amounted to 931, marking an increase from the previous year’s figure of 906. A total of 178 individuals were arrested for offenses linked to these cases in the previous year.
This incident is not the first of its kind involving a wheelchair and hidden drugs. In a similar occurrence in November, officials in New York seized $450,000 worth of cocaine concealed in the wheels of a woman’s wheelchair. In September 2022, Milan, Italy, was witness to nearly $1.6 million worth of cocaine cunningly stuffed into the upholstery of a motorized wheelchair.