TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A shipment of 126 kilograms of heroin originating in Myanmar was found on a vessel off southwest Taiwan, resulting in the termination of a supply route for the drug, Pingtung County prosecutors said Thursday (Dec. 10).
Investigators estimate the 324 bricks had a total street value of NT$3 billion (US$106 million), CNA reported.
The case began in March when the Coast Guard Administration in Kaohsiung received a tip-off about drug smugglers using fishing trawlers. After four months of investigation, agents boarded the Yi Feng Man off the coast of Pingtung County’s Hengchun Peninsula at 2 a.m. on July 24.
A thorough inspection of the vessel involving dogs and divers turned up five bags of heroin weighing a total of 126 kg. The captain of the ship, Lin Tse-fu (林澤富), and five other suspects were detained and later charged.
According to prosecutors, the drugs had been bundled into jute backpacks in the mountains of Myanmar and moved, possibly under military escort, to a port in Vietnam. The transshipment to the Yi Feng Man occurred in the South China Sea, the report said.
In August, five more arrests followed, with police nabbing a middleman, Wen Chun-lung (溫俊龍), and the man responsible for arranging transportation for the heroin.
Prosecutors explained that they had dealt a major blow to the smuggling route from the South China Sea to Taiwan. They said they had waited since July to announce the bust in order to uncover more accomplices.
In August, Pingtung prosecutors intercepted 1,020 bricks of heroin weighing a total of 384.5 kg as well as 610 kg of amphetamines in what was labeled the biggest heroin bust in Taiwanese history.