Southwest district police chief Superintendent AA Anbalagan (two from left) showed the seizure of fluid packs and leaves and ketum processing equipment after arresting four men between 24 and 30 years old, including a Nepalese at a media conference at the Police Headquarters Media Center Southwestern District, Balik Pulau. (NSTP/DANIAL SAAD)

BALIK PULAU: A man from China was detained at the Penang International Airport (PIA) on Saturday for attempting to smuggle 2.3 kilogrammes of heroin to Hong Kong.

The 44-year-old was detained at about 10.10am after catching the eye of authorities with his ‘suspicious’ behaviour.

Upon inspection, airport security personnel discovered the drugs, worth RM215,000, wrapped around the man’s waist and covered by a corset.

“The heroin base can be used to produce 5.4 kilograms of heroin, which can be misused by 54,000 drug addicts.

"We… also seized cash in Hong Kong dollars and Chinese yuan totalling RM1,181 (from the man)," Southwest district police chief Superintendent AA Anbalagan said at a press conference here, today.

An initial investigation found that the man had first entered the state in early November and stayed for three days, before returning to China. He re-entered Penang on Nov 28.

After his arrest, the man told police that he had taken to drug smuggling as he was crippled by high personal debts.

"He is being remanded for seven days and the case is being investigated under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952,” Anbalagan added.

On a separate case, police raided two houses at Permatang Damar Laut in Batu Maung on Saturday morning and seized 1,000 packets of ketum water and 80 kilogrammes of unprocessed ketum leaves.

Four men, including a Nepalese, were detained in the 1.50am raid.

"The ketum is believed to have been brought in from Kedah (and) was being processed for sale around Batu Maung and Bayan Lepas for RM5 to RM10 per packet.

"(We believe) this group has been active for the past three months," Anbalagan said, adding that the case is being investigated under Section 30(3) of the Poisons Act 1952.