Customs smashes supply chain of illicit cigarette syndicate (with photos)

14 Sep 2013

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (September 13) smashed a supply chain of an illicit cigarette syndicate and seized about 38 000 sticks of illicit cigarettes. The total market value of the cigarettes was about $100,000 with a duty potential of about $65,000. In the operation, three man aged between 25 and 47 were arrested and three vehicles used for conveying the illicit cigarettes were also seized.

Customs conducted a series of in-depth investigations into the source of selling illicit cigarette telephone-ordering, and found that the syndicate smuggled the cigarettes into Hong Kong by hiding them in concealed compartments of cross-boundary private cars. The cigarettes, smuggled in a small quantity each time, were then conveyed to other vehicles of the same syndicate for speedy distribution in the territory. After thorough investigation, Customs yesterday monitored cross-boundary private cars at the boundary and tracked the two suspected vehicles after their arrival. One of the cross-boundary private cars was found engaging in illicit cigarette activities with another local private car when reaching the town centre of Yuen Long. Customs took immediate action and arrested a man handling cigarettes at the scene and the driver of the cross-boundary private car. About 10 000 sticks of illicit cigarettes were found in a concealed compartment, camouflaged as a speaker, at the rear of the cross-boundary private car. Another 17 000 sticks of illicit cigarettes were also seized from the local private car.

Meanwhile, Customs intercepted the other targeted cross-boundary private car near Ngau Tam Mei, Yuen Long. The driver was arrested, and 11 000 sticks of illicit cigarettes were found in a speaker at the center of the car and in the concealed compartments at the two side doors. It is believed that the supply chain of the illicit cigarette syndicate has been dismantled.

The Deputy Head of Revenue and General Investigation Bureau, Ms Lai Sau-ieng, said at a press briefing today (September 14), "The operation reflected the effectiveness of the enforcement strategy. Customs will continue to undertake stringent enforcement against illicit cigarettes activities in all fronts for protection of 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/Saturday, September 14 2013

Previous Page