Body scanner to detect drugs at airport

Friday, January 21, 2011
Issue 1217, Page 4
Word count: 607
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Judiciary Police (PJ) will soon install an x-ray machine at the Macau International Airport to assist in the crackdown on the smuggling of illicit drugs inside body cavities.

PJ director Wong Sio Chak also stressed in a meeting with the media yesterday that inspections will also continue to be reinforced at various border checkpoints to prevent illicit drugs from coming into Macau.

Macau reported a total of 102 drug trafficking cases in 2010, a “slight increase” from 99 in 2009, Wong said, but the situation of smuggling drugs inside body cavities and using the Macau airport as a transit remains “severe”.

In 2010 alone, 16 “drug couriers” were arrested at the Macau airport, up from 13 in 2009 but down from 24 when compared to 2008, information released by the PJ showed.

Wong said the “drug couriers” usually flew to Macau on low-cost carriers and therefore the PJ officers stationed at the airport will conduct more frequent inspections on passengers coming by this kind of flight, adding that the success rate was “quite high”.

He also pointed out that crime syndicates usually make use of people with HIV to smuggle illicit drugs by hiding them inside their body cavities.

The director said the PJ will soon be equipped with an x-ray machine so that suspects will have their bodies scanned before being sent to the hospital.

That way, the hospital’s workload can be eased as currently the x-ray machines are only available there, he added.

Casino crime on the rise

Meanwhile, the statistics showed that most of the serious crime cases dropped in 2010, but gaming-related crimes have continued to increase from 1,506 in 2008, to 1,601 in 2009 and 1,655 in 2010.

Gaming-related crimes include false imprisonment, offering unsecured loans at high interest rates to individuals (commonly known as ‘loan sharking’), fraud, intimidation and betting crimes.

Deprivation of others’ freedom of movement also jumped three-fold from five cases in 2009 to 16 cases in 2010.

According to the PJ director, the increase in casino crimes was likely attributed to the continuous rapid development of the gaming industry.

Last year, the PJ established 9,898 new criminal cases, down 9.42 percent over 2009.

Of the serious crime categories, homicide decreased from five to two cases, triad crimes from six to three, extortion from 40 to 25, arson from 45 to 38, robbery from 221 to 152, and theft from 1,733 to 1,491.

There were two kidnapping cases reported in 2010 but both of them were solved by the PJ.

However, human trafficking cases soared significantly by eight to 12, prostitution cases dropped by four to 20 last year.

Despite a drop in the total number of crimes, more suspects were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP), from 1,869 in 2009 to 1,888 in 2010.

Yet, the PJ transferred fewer non-local suspects, at 159, to the MP during 2010, a decrease of 32 people compared to the preceding year.

The top three places of origin of the suspects were respectively the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia.

In the meantime, the number of mainland Chinese residents who committed crimes in Macau has continued to grow, up from 820 in 2008, to 991 in 2009 and then 1,062 in 2010.

Wong also revealed that the existing PJ headquarters in Rua Central is expected to be moved to Nape within three years, but he refused to disclose the exact location.

The new office building will give the officers and staff a “better working environment”, he added.

He said he wasn’t sure whether the headquarters, after the relocation, will be refurbished and become part of the new central library in the future.

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