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Customs seizes 5m cigarettes smuggled from mainland China

Monday, 12 August, 2013, 12:00am

NewsHong Kong


Department believes smuggling syndicate smashed after cross-boundary operation

About 5 million illicit cigarettes were seized by the Customs and Excise Department in a one-week special operation to combat the smuggling of cigarettes from the mainland to Hong Kong through a cross-boundary logistics network.

The total market value of the cigarettes alone in the three seizures was about HK$12 million with a duty potential of about HK$8 million. However, in one of the seizures the department also netted 5,000 counterfeit mobile phones and 400 tablet computers that were together worth HK$2.2 million.

Customs believes that a major cigarette-smuggling syndicate has been dismantled, with the seizure of the largest volume of illicit cigarettes in three years.

Seven Hong Kong men aged between 38 and 55 were arrested, one of whom was allegedly a core member of the syndicate.

Lai Sau-ieng, deputy head of the revenue and general investigation bureau of the customs department, said the syndicate had tried to conceal the cigarettes in a hollow stack of paper cartons.

“The cartons were stacked together and were put at the innermost part of the truck.

“After we opened them, we could see that the illicit cigarettes were placed inside the hollow cartons,” she said.

The cigarettes would have been conveyed to designated points for speedy distribution to various buyers in Hong Kong, she added.

Customs last Wednesday intercepted a cross-boundary container truck unloading goods at a factory building in Sha Tin. About 2.4 million illicit cigarettes were seized from the truck and five men were arrested.

With information revealed from the first case, two cross-boundary trucks declared to contain assorted goods were intercepted at Man Kam To Control Point at two different times on Friday, and about 2.6 million illicit cigarettes were seized. On board one of the trucks, a large batch of suspected counterfeit mobile phones and tablet computers were also found. The two male truck drivers were arrested.

So far this year customs has cracked 18 big smuggling attempts involving at least 500,000 cigarettes in each case. There were 17 such cases all of last year.

The maximum penalty for smuggling is a fine of HK$2 million and imprisonment for seven years, while anyone involved in dealing with, possessing, selling or buying illicit cigarettes can be punished with a fine of HK$1 million and a two-year jail term.


Customs bolsters seizures by 142pc

2 Jul 2013

‘Empty’ truck yields 1.13m illegal cigarettes

8 Jul 2013

Illicit tobacco trade sparks call for joint response by police, customs

26 Jun 2013

Customs seize HK$24 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco

1 May 2013

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