Chinese and U.S. agents on Tuesday announced the arrests of nine people in the country's largest ever seizure of smuggled cocaine.
Those held included two Colombian nationals arrested in Hong Kong, along with suspects from Hong Kong and mainland China, officials of China's customs agency and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said at a news conference.
Officers confiscated 142.7 kilograms (314 pounds) of cocaine smuggled from Colombia, along with the equivalent of about US$25,000 (€19,600) in Chinese and Hong Kong currency, said Liu Guangping, spokesman for the Customs General Administration of China.
The case illustrates how South American drug gangs are aggressively moving into Asia to exploit new markets and expand their global distribution chains, said William Fiebig, a DEA special agent based in Beijing.
"It's a market, a huge market," said Fiebig. "Why are other businesses coming to Asia?" he said.
The case also marked the first time Chinese customs has worked with U.S. authorities on a drug investigation, Fiebig and Chinese officials said.