Customs swoops on telephone-order illicit cigarette activities (with photos)

2 Nov 2012

Hong Kong Customs has conducted special anti-illicit cigarette operations targeting the telephone ordering of illicit cigarettes over the past seven months and has seized about 3 million sticks of illicit cigarettes with a total value of about $7.2 million and a duty potential of $5.2 million.

Acting on intelligence analysis and investigation, Customs found most of the illicit cigarettes offenders had used telephone ordering to sell illicit cigarettes and distributed leaflets in public housing estates to the targeted customers.

Officers of the Customs' Telephone Order Task Unit subsequently took enforcement actions and effected a total of 96 cases via telephone order from April to October. During the period, Customs officers arrested 119 persons aged from 18 to 73, including 61 illicit cigarette buyers. Forty-one vehicles suspected to be involved in delivering illicit cigarettes were also seized.

The Divisional Commander (Anti-Illicit-Cigarette Investigation) of the Revenue and General Investigation Bureau, Mr Wan Hing-chuen , said today (November 2) at a press conference, "Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, both buying and selling illicit cigarettes are illegal. The maximum penalty is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years."

Mr Wan also said that if flats at public housing estates were found to be involved in illicit cigarette activities, Customs would notify the Housing Department for follow up action after the conclusion of court proceedings.

In the first ten months of this year, Customs detected 14 significant smuggling cases and smashed 208 illicit cigarette distribution centres, resulting in the seizure of a total of 55 million sticks of illicit cigarettes valued at $135 million.

Customs will continue to closely monitor the situation and conduct stringent enforcement actions against illicit cigarette activities.

Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities on the Customs' hotline at 2545 6182.

Ends/Friday, November 2 2012

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