´╗┐Customs operation against sale of illicit cigarettes by telephone orders

27 Jan 2010

Officers of the Revenue and General Investigation Bureau and Special Task Force of Hong Kong Customs have arrested 48 people in a two-month special operation, targeting at the sale of illicit cigarettes by telephone orders. In the operation, the officers also cracked down on 15 storage facilities. About 450,000 sticks of illicit cigarettes, worth about $860,000 with a dutiable value of $540,000, were seized.

Starting from late November last year, Customs officers, posing as buyers, made orders of illicit cigarettes by calling the telephone numbers printed on leaflets collected. Up to today (January 27), a total of 40 cases have been detected. Among the 32 men and 16 women arrested, four were buyers and 44 sellers, aged from 15 to 74.

Speaking at a press briefing today (January 27), the Deputy Head of the Revenue and General Investigation Bureau, Mr Kong Shui-wing, stressed that buying or selling illicit cigarettes was a criminal offence and convictions would lead to criminal records. He appealed to members of the public not to get involved in such illegal activities.

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

People are urged to report suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Wednesday, January 27, 2010

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