Officers said the drugs had a street value of HK$840 million, adding that the amount of ketamine seized in this single case exceeded the amount of all ketamine seized in the first eleven months combined.
The force said officers, including marine police and officers from the Special Duties Unit, intercepted several dozen bags of the suspected drug after criminals began transferring them from a speedboat to nearby trucks.
Four men aged between 32 and 47 were arrested, with two of them charged with trafficking dangerous drugs and are expected to appear at Kwun Tong Magistracy on Sunday. Officers said they believe three of the arrestees were members of the same crime syndicate.
One of the suspects had tried to escape by jumping into the sea during the chase, but was arrested by police afterwards, officers said.
But the force said the speedboat fled and dropped about 30 bags of drugs into the sea, which it later seized.
Officers believed the drugs were originally from Pakistan, with some of them believed to be distributed locally.
Chief inspector Ip Sau-lan from the Narcotics Bureau said the case was likely to have involved cross-border drug trafficking judging from past experience.
“The drug-trafficking syndicate would use fishing boats or ocean-going vessels to transport the drugs to the high seas near the Hong Kong waters, then they’ll arrange speedboats to smuggle the drugs to the shore in Hong Kong,” she said.
She added that the syndicate had used a number of members to act as lookouts and had rented several vehicles to hide their identities.
Chief Superintendent Ng Wing-sze from the Narcotics Bureau said the pandemic had prompted crime syndicates to change their drug-trafficking tactics due to travel restrictions.
“Because of the Covid-19, the modus operandi of drug trafficking syndicates really changed from the small quantity trafficking by passengers or tourists from anywhere else in Hong Kong to large quantities of drugs being smuggled in large shipments,” she said.
“If the travelling and transport restrictions due to the Covid-19 situation continue, I believe this modus operandi regarding drug trafficking will still continue,” Ng added.