Taipei, July 3 (CNA) The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) has arrested the mastermind of a plan to smuggle a large amount of cannabis into Taiwan that was foiled by a joint effort by the United States and Taiwan late last year.
The ring leader, a 64-year-old man surnamed Kao (高), was arrested by police in late June and has been held since then for his suspected role in the smuggling of nearly 1,200 kilograms of marijuana with a market value of NT$1.8 billion (US$57.8 million), said Dustin Lee (李泱輯), head of the CIB’s International Criminal Affairs Division, on Monday.
The shipment, concealed in a container destined for Taiwan and declared as furniture by a U.S. shell company, was first intercepted by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection in Long Beach, California on a tip, Lee said at a press conference.
The U.S. authorities confiscated and destroyed most of the marijuana, leaving only 19.5 kg within the container bound for Taiwan, and it passed information related to the case to the CIB, according to Lee.
The CIB seized the remaining marijuana upon its arrival at the Port of Keelung on Nov. 16, and arrested a 57-year-old woman surnamed Yin (殷), who helped broker the shipment with customs.
It also arrested two men surnamed Feng (豐), 63, and Wu (伍), 79, who help transport the container to Beitou District in Taipei, where it was to be unloaded.
According to an investigation, the importer of the shipment was a 57-year-old man surnamed Chen (陳) who owned a furniture company in Taiwan.
Chen, however, fled to China before the shipment arrived in Taiwan, according to the CIB.
Chen was found to have worked with a 62-year-old suspect surnamed Sun (孫), who has dual U.S. and Taiwan nationalities, with Sun in charge of sourcing marijuana in the U.S. and packaging and shipping it to Taiwan.
Sun was detained at Taoyuan International Airport in March after arriving there to make a connection to a flight for the U.S. He is currently being held by prosecutors, the CIB said.
The investigation then led to Kao, a gang member active in Taipei, as the mastermind in the case because of his alleged role as the ultimate buyer of the smuggled marijuana.
According to police, Kao began to change his residence frequently after learning of Sun’s arrest to elude police and was eventually caught in Kaohsiung on June 27 during raids by law enforcement agents in Kaohsiung and New Taipei’s Xindian District.
Kao was turned over to Keelung prosecutors on June 28 and has been held in custody since then, the CIB said.
(By Flor Wang and Huang Li-yun)
This content was originally published here.