Taiwan: Authorities Seize More Than US$100 Million in Drugs

Taiwan's Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Justice has reported the largest drug bust in two decades, according to the Taiwanese public Central News Agency (CNA).

Bureau agents found 103 kilograms of heroin and 240 kilograms of ketamine hidden in a cargo container in the port city of Kaohsiung on Friday. The drugs, worth an estimated street value of US$102 million, were "10 million doses, or half-a-year's worth of demand in the local drug market," according to CNA.

Authorities arrested two men as alleged owners of the drugs. Manufacturing, transporting, or dealing heroin is punishable by death in Taiwan.

An AFP story reports that officials discovered the drugs hidden in 40 marked bags of frozen taro, which were mixed in with bags of actual taro, a starchy root eaten in a number of south Asian countries. The drugs had originated from Myanmar while the vegetables came from Vietnam. Officials said that the seizure followed a three-year investigation involving wiretapping.

AFP notes that drug abuse is on the rise in Taiwan. The past year has seen several major operations targeting heroin smuggling, including a seizure of US$80 million worth of heroin in a fishing boat.