The Mexican drug cartel Sinaloa is trying to establish a foothold in Hong Kong, confirming fears of Philippine counter-narcotic officials that the group has extended its operations to the Asia-Pacific.
The Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post said reported on Sunday that the Sinaloa is trying to cash in on the booming demand for cocaine and methamphetamine, known in the Philippines as shabu and in Hong Kong as meth and ice.
The report said Hong Kong triad gangs are supplying the cartel the precursor chemicals like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine being used to produce shabu.
Hong Kong authorities, the Post said, have formed a team to trace the trade of the controlled chemicals to stop the supply of precursors.
Last Christmas Day, Philippine counternarcotics authorities found a cache of shabu said to belong to the Sinaloa at a game fowl farm in Lipa City.
The discovery was followed by the arrest of foreigners, Canadians and one from Middle East, in a raid in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.
Sinaloa is considered one of the world’s most dangerous drug group, claiming 60,000 lives since 2006 in Mexico.
Hong Kong law enforcement officials said the Mexican cartel has sneaked in cocaine into the former British colony.
The Sinaloa has been attempting to enter the luxurious Hong Kong market since 2012, a move that would imprint its claim as global illegal drugs supply chain.
Sinaloa is the name of a state in Mexico, home of the cartel’s founder, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the 10th richest man in Mexico.
He is wanted by the US Treasury department, which offers $5 million reward for information leading to his capture. Sinaloa is home of boxers Jorge Arce, who was twice defeated by Nonito Donaire, and the legendary Julio Ceasar Chavez.
In the Philippines, the Mexican cartel has joined forces with Chinese drug syndicates and African traffickers to produce and market illegal drugs.
The Post reported that five Mexicans were sentence last year to up to 27 years in prison for smuggling 538 kilos of cocaine in 2011.
The paper said cocaine seizures by Hong Kong Customs soared from 30kg in 2011 to 600kg in 2012, a rise of nearly 2,000 per cent. Cocaine sells HK$1,200.
Shabu is becoming popular in Hong Kong. Authorities seized 165kg of the substance—a 125 per cent rise from the 73kg captured in 2012.
Shabu is packaged in China as meth pills, also considered of higher quality compared to those pedaled in the rest of Asia, the report said.
JAIME R. PILAPIL