Record cocaine bust in Hong Kong

Photographer looks at cocaine haul on display at a Hong Kong police station on 18 September 2011 The cocaine haul was put on display at a police station in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong police have made their largest ever drugs bust, seizing nearly half a tonne of cocaine with a street value of around $77m (£49m), they say.

Drugs officers raided five locations across the city, including a recycling warehouse and private residences.

Eight people - five men and three women - have been arrested. Six are due to appear in court on Monday, while two have been released on police bail.

The haul had been hidden under heaps of recycled plastic materials.

The recycled plastic is thought to have been brought into the city in shipping containers.

Chief Superintendent John Ribeiro of the Narcotics Bureau said police acted after receiving a tip-off about a South American transnational drug syndicate.

Five Mexicans, an American man and a Colombian woman with Hong Kong residency were among those arrested, a police spokesperson was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

A total of 567kg (1,250 pounds) of cocaine was found. Ch Supt Ribeiro said officers expected more drugs to be found.

Some of the drugs could have been intended for use in Hong Kong, the BBC's Annemarie Evans reports.

But there is also an increasing customer base across the border in mainland China where growing wealth has led to a bigger appetite for recreational drugs, she adds.

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