Customs smashes illicit cigarette case in Northern New Territories (with photos)

7 Jul 2013

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (July 6) smashed an illicit cigarette case in Northern New Territories and seized about 1.13 million sticks of illicit cigarettes contained in 88 cartons. The total market value of the cigarettes was about $3 million with a duty potential of about $2 million. In the operation, four members of the syndicate aged between 31 and 55 were arrested and two vehicles used for conveying the illicit cigarettes were also seized.

Customs officers has recently conducted a series of in-depth investigations into an active illicit cigarettes syndicate and found that the syndicate smuggled the cigarettes into Hong Kong by a cross-boundary container truck. The cigarettes were then conveyed to a designated point for transfer to other vehicles of the same syndicate for speedy distribution to various buyers in the territory. After comprehensive intelligence analysis and thorough investigation, Customs took action yesterday by tracking and monitoring a cross-boundary container truck declared to carry an empty container to a cargo loading place located at Northern New Territories. Eventually, three men transferring cigarettes from the cross-boundary container truck onto a medium goods vehicle and the driver of the cross-boundary container truck were arrested. A batch of illicit cigarettes was found in a false compartment of the cross-boundary container truck. It is believed that the illicit cigarette syndicate has been dismantled.

The Divisional Commander (Anti-Illicit-Cigarette Investigation) of the Revenue and General Investigation Bureau, Mr Wan Hing-chuen, said at a press conference today (July 7), "The operation reflected the effectiveness of the enforcement strategy, especially strengthening enforcement actions at source. Customs will continue to undertake stringent enforcement against illicit cigarettes activities in order to protect government revenue."

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, smuggling is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

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

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

Ends/Sunday, July 7 2013

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