In response to press enquiries, a spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department said today (May 3):
In the course of Customs clearance, Customs officers seized about 2 850 light machine guns and submachine guns and about 25 200 magazines in Kwai Chung last Friday (April 30).
As these goods are strategic commodities subject to licence control under the Import and Export Ordinance they are being detained for further investigations. No arrest has been made at this stage.
Initial investigations revealed that the seized goods were recorded in the manifest and there was no indication that the shipments were intended for smuggling purpose or connected with crime or terrorism. The two containers were imported from Malaysia for re-export to Oakland, USA.
Hong Kong has a comprehensive and stringent licensing control system on the import, export, and transshipment of strategic commodities. The transit of more sensitive items including machine guns is also subject to licensing requirement.
We are determined to upholding the integrity of our system. We take a serious view of any breach of the Hong Kong law over the control of strategic commodities.
The present case was detected in the course of cargo clearance. This has once again demonstrated that the present strategic commodities monitoring mechanism in Hong Kong is working well.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person who imports or exports strategic commodities without a licence is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years; and on conviction on indictment to an unlimited fine and to imprisonment for seven years.
Ends/Monday, May 3, 2004