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Customs seizes 1,400 kilogrammes of illicit tobacco (with photos)

Hong Kong Customs last week seized 72 parcels containing around 900 kilogrammesof illicit tobacco at the Airmail Centre, which was waiting to be airmailed to the United Kingdom.

This morning (December 14), after in-depth investigations, Customs officers cracked down on an illicit tobacco storage centre inside an industrial building in Kwai Chung and arrested three men. During the operation, a total of 1,400kilogrammes of illicit tobacco valued at about $3.9 million with a duty potential of $2.4 million was seized.

Customs officers first seized some 900 kilogrammes of illicit tobacco from the 72 parcels destined for the United Kingdom. The seizures were worth about $2.5 million, with a duty potential of about $1.4 million.

After investigation, it was found that the smugglers had attempted to send the illicit tobacco by airmail, and tried to avoid the Customs investigation by posting the parcels at different post offices.

Following further investigation, Customs officers today cracked down on an illicit tobacco storage centre inside an industrial building in Kwai Chung with the arrest of three men, aged between 33 and 49. Two of them were preparing to send parcels containing tobacco by airmail.

Some 500 kilogrammes of illicit tobacco valued at $1.4 million with a duty potential of $1 million were seized at the storage centre. The three men were detained for further investigation.

To deter smuggling activities by airmail, officers of the Customs Airport Command inspect inbound and outbound airmail using advanced equipment such as X-ray machines and ion scanners. The Customs also maintain intelligence exchange with overseas counterparts to fight against smuggling activities.

The department reminded members of the public that using airmail for illicit purposes is an offence and will be prosecuted.

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession, selling and buying of illicit cigarettes or tobacco commits an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for two years and a fine of $1 million.

Hong Kong Customs will spare no effort in combating illicit cigarette or tobacco activities. Members of the public are urged to report any such activities to the Customs’ 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 2545 6182end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Issued at HKT 21:21

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