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Chief suspect in massive Taiwan heroin catch fled to China

Total value of 1,172 heroin bricks hidden inside wooden blocks estimated at NT$5 billion

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Premier Su Tseng-chang (second left) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih (third left) inspecting a record heroin haul. 

Premier Su Tseng-chang (second left) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih (third left) inspecting a record heroin haul.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The chief suspect behind the smuggling of NT$5 billion (US$180 million) worth of heroin from Thailand into Taiwan has fled to China, reports said Wednesday (Nov. 24).

The 1,172 bricks, weighing a total of 447 kilograms, had been hidden inside wooden blocks, with their discovery last month described as the largest haul of heroin ever found on the Taiwanese mainland, the Liberty Times reported.

The alleged mastermind of the operation, a man named Lin (林), was a member of the Bamboo Union, one of Taiwan’s most powerful organized crime groups. He maintained close connections with figures operating in the “Golden Triangle,” an area on the borders between Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar with a history of drug production.

In September, gang members reportedly packaged the heroin inside the blocks, which were then shipped to Taichung Port in central Taiwan. Lin sent a truck to move the drugs into a warehouse in Taishan, New Taipei City, the report said.

On Oct. 20, police raided the facility as well as sites in Taipei, Keelung, and Yilan, leading to the detention of seven suspects, including an Australian national. However, by that time, Lin had already left the country and was believed to be hiding in China, according to police.

Investigators found the heroin by sending 2,500 blocks through an X-ray, with 100 found to contain packs of heroin marked “Double UOGlobe Brand” in English and Chinese with the claim the product was “100% pure.”

On Wednesday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), a former national police chief, took part in a news conference where they inspected the drugs and issued rewards to the officers who had discovered the operation.