On December 7, 2010, Canada Border Services officers identified a suspicious shipment onboard a container vessel arriving from Hong Kong. Documentation accompanying the shipment identified the goods as 402 cartons of coffee mugs.
When CBSA officers examined the 20-foot marine container, they noticed discrepancies in the x-ray images and a full examination of the container was conducted. Their examination confirmed 318 cartons of coffee mugs and 84 boxes that contained coffee mugs and vacuum sealed bags containing a white crystalline powder. Tests performed by border services officers indicated that the bags contained ketamine hydrochloride. A total of 1003.9 kilograms of ketamine was seized.
A coordinated effort between the CBSA and the Federal RCMP’s Drug Enforcement Program was immediately established to follow up on the investigation.
On December 11, 2010, the RCMP gathered enough evidence to arrest five men in Richmond. Using a search warrant, the RCMP’s Clandestine Laboratory Team searched two locations in Richmond and discovered a pill press, binding agents and other materials commonly associated with a synthetic drug laboratory.
Three of the accused, including 53-year-old Tak Ming Chan, 58-year-old Yiu Ming Kwok, and 58-year-old Wing Kee Ng, are Chinese nationals and have been remanded until February 8, 2011. All three face charges of Importing a Controlled Substance and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking. Also in custody and charged with Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking are 54-year-old Hoi Sing Lai and 42-year-old Hin Cheung Lau of Vancouver.
Ketamine is a tranquilizer with hallucinogenic properties. The 1,003.9 kilograms seized in this file represents well over 1,000,000 doses; that’s enough ketamine for every person in the cities of Surrey and Vancouver combined. This seizure represents more than $15,000,000 taken out of the wallets of drug traffickers.
Ketamine causes symptoms including amnesia, depression and long-term memory and cognitive problems. The drug can be used on its own, but it is also commonly cut and mixed into ecstasy (MDMA) pills, or is used as a date-rape drug. Ketamine is in the same category, under schedule 1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as cocaine, opium or heroin and is illegal to import, possess and sell. The maximum penalty for importing or trafficking katamine is life imprisonment.
The Federal Drug Enforcement Program is actively investigating connections to specific organized crime groups from Asia.