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July 4th, 2012:

Shenzhen Customs seize 5,727 cartons of cigarettes

Shenzhen Customs seized 5,727 cartons of cigarettes at the Wenjindu Port on July 3 from a van with a Hong Kong license plate.

Customs officers inspected the van, which was declared an empty vehicle, and discovered a 2.3 meter by 1.7 meter inner compartment in the front of the container concealing thousands of cigarettes.

After three hours of inspection and counting, officers declared they had found 98 boxes totaling 5,727 cartons of cigarettes comprising 17 brands including Marlboro, Zhongnanhai and Double Happiness.

Shenzhen Customs said in a statement the contraband is suspected to be counterfeit cigarettes and an investigation is under way.

The statement said Hong Kong has continued to increase tax on tobacco over several years, widening the cigarette price difference between Hong Kong and the mainland. As a result, smuggling counterfeit cigarettes has become increasingly lucrative. A carton of counterfeit Chunghwa cigarettes, a popular brand on the mainland, which cost less than 10 yuan ($1.57), can reap smugglers a 200 percent profit in Hong Kong. International brand cigarettes could net smugglers a 600 percent profit.