Customs and Police officers this morning (January 25) seized five speedboats on the waterfront of Tung Chung, Lantau Island. The vessels were suspected to be involved in a seafood smuggling case on January 14. A 31-year-old male vessel owner was arrested.
This is the first time the Customs and Police have detained vessels using a new provision of the Import and Export Ordinance. By virtue of the newly-enacted section 14A(6)(b)(iv) of the ordinance, a vessel of less than 250 gross tonnes which has a facility to mount one or more than one outboard engine where the total power of the engine or engines exceeding 225 horsepower (HP) could be presumed to have been used for the purpose of smuggling, and the vessels and goods involved are liable to forfeiture.
The Group Head of Marine Enforcement Group of Customs, Mr Chiu Yuk-hung, said at a press briefing today that the five vessels were suspected to have been involved in a seafood smuggling case on January 14. They were seized this morning in Tung Chung after days of investigation.
Three of the five vessels were speedboats each was mounted with two 250HP outboard engines while the other two motor sampans were each mounted with a 250HP outboard engine. The arrested man has been released on bail for further investigation.
Mr Chiu said that enforcement actions have been strengthened since the provision was enacted on December 24, 2009, for tackling sea smuggling involving speedboats.
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.
The 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/Monday, January 25, 2010