Customs and Marine Police officers this morning (January 14) neutralised a high-value seafood smuggling syndicate in Tung Chung, Lautau Island, in an operation code-named "Chain Runner". Unmanifested seafood worth about $1.44 million, a local fishing vessel and two lorries were seized in the operation. Six men, aged from 17 to 51, including the owner of the fishing vessel, were arrested.
After weeks of in-depth investigation by Customs into a syndicate which was active in smuggling high-value seafood in Tung Chung, the Customs and Marine Police swooped on the smugglers before dawn today. The officers took action when the smugglers were unloading the goods from the lorries to the fishing vessel. Loads of unmanifested seafood, including 48 cartons of lobsters, 45 cartons of abalone, 87 cartons of geoducks and 15 cartons of oysters, were seized on the vessel.
Initial investigation showed that the seafood was imported to Hong Kong from Australia, the United States and Canada by air.
The arrested persons have been released on bail for further investigation.
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.
Hong Kong Customs will continue to work closely with the Marine Police for intelligence exchange and to conduct joint operations to combat sea smuggling activities.
To report any suspected smuggling activities, please call the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.
Ends/Thursday, January 14, 2010