ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Three people were arrested after U.S. Customs investigators intercepted two shipments of opium sent from Thailand to Anchorage.
Kae Fin Saelee, 34, Chio On Saechao, 29, and Cheng K. Saechao, 35, were charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, Anchorage police said.
Customs investigators said the two shipments were among the largest opium imports in the country this year. Together, they amounted to roughly 60 kilos.
''We were astounded to find out that this amount was coming through here,'' Lt. Audie Holloway told KTUU-TV.
The eight packages in the second shipment were intercepted Oct. 4. The boxes were filled with small Asian statues, shipped express from Thailand to Anchorage. Inside each plastic figurine was a raw form of opium, police said.
Police took the statues apart, confiscated most of the opium and replaced it with a look-alike substance. Then the boxes of statues were delivered to the east Anchorage address by an undercover police officer posing as a delivery man.
Police waited for days as the suspects checked out the package and brought it back to the shipping company on Oct. 11. The package was marked ''Not My'' with instructions to return to Thailand.
Search warrants of two Anchorage homes turned up an opium pipe, piles of opium in various states of production and commercial aspirin bottles filled with opium, police said.
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