Taiwan: Police Make Massive Heroin Bust, Arrest 7 Suspects

Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) conducted the largest drug bust the nation has seen in two decades on Sunday, according to the Taiwanese newspaper The China Post.

In the culmination of a two-year investigation, CIB officials seized 600 bricks of heroin weighing a total of 229 kilograms, valued at NT$9 billion, or US$380 million. CIB commissioner Lin Te-hua said that the drugs had a wholesale value of US$30.5 million, but the street value in Taiwan was about 10 times as much, AFP reports.

Law enforcement authorities found the drugs in a cargo aircraft at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Police used drug-sniffing dogs to find the illicit cargo which was hidden in stereo equipment. Smugglers had spread chocolate paste on the drugs in an unsuccessful attempt to throw the dogs off the scent.

Police arrested seven suspects in the smuggling ring, including the alleged leader.

The Taoyuan District Prosecutor's Office cooperated with the CIB in legally wiretapping more than a dozen phone lines during November. Lin said that the bust was possible due to information gathered via wiretapping and that such practices were essential for law enforcement.

Time reports that the drugs most likely originated in Myanmar and were smuggled through Vietnam. Sunday's massive bust is one of several in recent years, along with the seizure of nearly 100 kilograms of heroin in October and a separate seizure of 80 kilograms in 2012, in efforts by authorities to battle Taiwan's rising drug abuse problems.

Transporting or dealing heroin is punishable by death in Taiwan.