Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati, Ohio reported on Friday the discovery of 20 kilograms of cocaine-coated cornflakes that had been shipped from South America to a Hong Kong home.

The cocaine, disguised as icing sugar on frosted corn flakes, had a street value of US$2.82 million (HK$22 million).

Officials said a sniffer dog named Bico was checking incoming freight from Peru on February 13 when he alerted officers to the package, which was headed for a private residence in Hong Kong.

Officers found that the cereal contained white powder and the flakes were coated with a grayish substance. Both tested positive for cocaine.

Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie said smugglers hide narcotics in anything imaginable.

"The men and women at the Port of Cincinnati are committed to stopping the flow of dangerous drugs, and they continue to use their training, intuition and strategic skills to prevent these kinds of illegitimate shipments from reaching the public."

Drug traffickers around the world have been creative in concealing drugs.

Last month, Hong Kong police seized HK$5.50 million worth of drugs in a case where smugglers put suspected liquid "ice" into drink bottles, refrigerated them and paraded them as refrigerant gel packs for keeping seafood shipments fresh.

Last November, officers found HK$26 million worth of suspected ice inside "rocks" in a Sheung Shui warehouse.

They drilled open the rocks and discovered 42 kilograms of suspected "ice" believed to have been shipped from Pakistan.

A total of 3,587 people were arrested in Hong Kong for drug-related offenses last year. They included 472 people aged under 21 - a rise from 212 in 2019. The most common drugs included cannabis, cocaine and ketamine.

Possession and consumption of illegal drugs could lead to a maximum sentence of seven years in jail and a HK$1 million fine. The sentence for drug trafficking is life imprisonment and a fine of HK$5 million.