Customs smashes smuggling syndicate and its store for smuggling powdered formula (with photos)

8 Apr 2013

Following last weekend's two-day operation against the smuggling of powdered formula smashing three smuggling syndicates, Hong Kong Customs today (April 8) cracked down another smuggling syndicate which attempted to export unlicensed powdered formula by "ant-moving-home" approach and raided its store.

During the operation, five smugglers were arrested at Lo Wu Control Point and a total of 20 kilogrammes (in 18 boxes and 6 cans) of powdered formula for infants and children under 36 months (powdered formula) were seized. Meanwhile, two masterminds were also arrested in an industrial building in Sheung Shui. A total of 4,050 kilogrammes of powdered formula (in 4,500 tins), worth around $1.1 million, were seized in a store located inside the industrial building.

This morning, Customs officers found that a smuggling syndicate retrieving powdered formula from a store for distribution to smugglers at a nearby railway station. The smugglers travelled to the Mainland several times each day, bringing two tins or more powdered formula with them each time. At noon, two men and three women, aged between 21 and 50, all Hong Kong people, were arrested when they were about to leave Hong Kong from Lo Wu. A total of 20 kilogrammes of powdered formula (in 18 boxes and 6 cans) were seized.

Afterwards, Customs officers arrested a man (aged 20) and a woman (aged 51), believed to be the masterminds who controlled the supply chain in an industrial building in Sheung Shui. Both were Hong Kong people. A total of 4,050 kilogrammes of powdered formula (in 4,500 tins), worth around $1.1 million, were seized in the store. Customs investigation is still continuing.

To tackle smuggling of powdered formula by "ant-moving-home" approach, the Customs will continue to trace the supply chain and to apprehend the masterminds. The smugglers will be charged for attempting to export unlicensed powdered formula, while the masterminds will be charged with assisting with carrying of prohibited articles offence.

The Import and Export (General)(Amendment) Regulation 2013 prohibits the unlicensed export of powdered formula for infants and children under 36 months. To allow a reasonable quantity for personal use, the prohibition does not apply to powdered formula not exceeding 1.8 kilogrammes in total net weight that is exported in the accompanied personal baggage of a person leaving Hong Kong. However, the person must be aged 16 or above and must not have left Hong Kong in the last 24 hours. Offenders may face a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years upon conviction.

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of assisting with the carrying/keeping of an article, the export of which is prohibited other than in accordance with a licence is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

The Customs will take continuous action against smuggling activities. Members of the public are urged to report any suspected smuggling activities to the Customs through Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Monday, April 8 2013

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