Customs swoops on illicit cigarette smuggling syndicates in Man Kam To and Lok Ma Chau (with photos)

14 Jun 2012

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (June 13) and today (June 14) swooped on two illicit cigarette smuggling syndicates in Man Kam To and Lok Ma Chau Control Points respectively. On board two cross-boundary lorries, a total of 240 boxes containing 1.75 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarette were found. The total value is about $4.4 million with a duty potential of $3 million. In the operations, five men aged 28 to 45 were arrested and three lorries used in smuggling and distribution of illicit cigarettes were seized.

At about 9.20pm yesterday, Customs officers at Man Kam To Control Point intercepted a vehicle loaded with goods which declared to contain "fresh fruit". Upon x-ray examination, 450,000 sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes were found concealed inside 106 cartons of fresh fruit. The driver was arrested immediately.

At about 9am today, Customs officers at Lok Ma Chau Control Point intercepted a logistics lorry. Upon X-ray examination, 1.3 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes were found while the driver and three more men were arrested.

In the above cases, cigarettes of various brands, which had been sorted and packed, could be speedily delivered for sale. Customs believes that the illicit cigarette syndicates continues to manipulate the "swift distribution" mode with an attempt to lessen the risk of being detected.

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

Customs will continue to take stringent enforcement against cigarette smuggling activities to protect government revenue.

Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, June 14 2012

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