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Hong Kong Customs to work with Guangdong counterparts to crack down on cigarette smuggling

A consignment of illegal cigarettes seized by Hong Kong customs earlier this year. Photo: ISD

A consignment of illegal cigarettes seized by Hong Kong customs earlier this year. Photo: ISD

Hong Kong Customs will seek help from their mainland counterparts to investigate a cross-border syndicate after making their biggest seizure of smuggled cigarettes this year.

The HK$4.9 million haul of untaxed cigarettes was discovered hidden in two shipping containers which arrived from Guangdong by sea on Thursday.

“The containers were declared to have carried electronic parts and LED lights but its shipper is not involved in such business. This aroused our officers’ suspicions,” Superintendent Cecilia Yeung Kai-fei, deputy head of the Customs’ revenue and general investigation bureau, said.

The two containers were taken to a Customs cargo examination plant in Tuen Mun for inspection.

Under an X-ray examination, suspicious images were found at the back of the containers. A total 122 boxes of illicit cigarettes were uncovered after the two containers were opened for inspection. No one was arrested.

“Our investigation indicates that consignment was for local consumption,” Yeung said.

She said it was the fourth major seizure of contraband cigarettes this year but “this is the biggest”.

“We believe there is a cross-border syndicate behind the shipment because it involved such large quantity of illicit cigarettes,” she said.

“We will ask our Guangdong counterparts for help in our follow-up investigation.”

In the previous three cases detected in the first quarter of this year, in total 2.4 million cigarettes, worth about HK$6.3 million, were smuggled into Hong Kong from the mainland by land or by sea.

“Syndicates use different methods of smuggling in an attempt to evade our detection,” Yeung said, adding that the latest seizure showed the effectiveness of enforcement strategy.

She said Hong Kong Customs would continue to carry out stringent enforcement actions against such illegal activities.

Last year, customs officers confiscated 14 millions of illicit cigarettes worth HK$37.8 million in seven major seizures.

Under the import and export ordinance, smuggling is a serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of a HK$2 million fine and seven years of imprisonment.

Source URL (modified on Apr 17th 2015, 7:18pm):

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