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Authorities Watch for Drug-smuggling Foreigners
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Guangzhou Customs has vowed to work harder to fight drug smuggling by foreigners after an Iranian appeared in court yesterday.

Morteza Taheri, 41, was allegedly caught trying to smuggle 7,000 grams of the drug 'ice' out of China in his luggage.

He was seized by Guangzhou Customs at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport on January 30.

Two others said to have been working with him were caught by police at a hotel two days later.

Taheri did not deny the charges against him at the trial, which ended yesterday at the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court without a verdict.

A verdict is expected within three months. In the meantime, the suspect is in custody in Guangzhou.

"Although there is no verdict yet, the case sounds alarm bells for foreign smugglers; any smuggling via an airport will be dealt with via judicial punishment," said Xu Yue, a spokeswoman with Guangzhou Customs.

According to Xu, the number of smuggling cases via Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport saw a rise in the first nine months of this year.

Sources with Guangzhou Customs said there were five smuggling cases detected at the airport in the first half of this year.

"The cases involved foreigners smuggling ice, heroin and cocaine. They either entered or left from the airport," Xu told China Daily yesterday.

On May 29, Yaw Fosu, another Iranian, was caught at the airport allegedly trying to smuggle more than 3 kilograms of cocaine into China in his luggage.

It was the largest amount of drugs seized by airport Customs in the first half of this year.

According to Xu, smuggling by foreigners via the airport has become worse since the beginning of September.

Currently, there is an average of one attempted smuggling case per day via the airport, according to Xu.

"Different from previous cases, most of the recent ones involved smuggling on the person," said Xu, adding that this kind of smuggling is harder to detect.

Moreover, most foreign smugglers have been found to have a close relationship with international smuggling groups, Xu said.

From September 4-10, Guangzhou Baiyun Airport Customs seized nine foreign smugglers who allegedly hid drugs on their bodies, trying to get banned substances both in and out of China.

"Most of the suspects were from the Middle East and Southeast Asia," Xu said.

According to Xu, Guangzhou Customs has launched a special campaign to fight against smuggling via the airport.

"More state-of-the-art technology and facilities will be introduced at the airport's exit and entrance to detect smuggling more efficiently," Xu said.

(China Daily October 11, 2006)

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