´╗┐Customs seizes illicit cigarettes in anti-smuggling operation at sea (with photos)

3 Jul 2010

Customs officers today (July 3) conducted an anti-smuggling operation at Cheung Chau and seized illicit cigarettes worth about $37,000 and detained an incoming Hong Kong fishing vessel for investigation.

Acting on information, Customs officers of Marine Enforcement Group conducted patrol and surveillance operation against smuggling activities in Cheung Chau and intercepted an incoming Hong Kong fishing vessel from the Mainland inside the typhoon shelter for a search in early morning today. As a result, officers discovered 9 carton boxes containing a total of 18,000 sticks of illicit cigarettes underneath the wooden floor inside the steering cabin of the vessel. The seized cigarettes worth about $37,000 and duty potential at about $28,000. The ship master could not produce any import manifest to cover the seized goods. Six men onboard the vessel including the Hong Kong vessel owner and two Mainland crews, aged between 44 and 69, were detained for investigation.

The Customs discovered that smugglers had attempted to smuggle illicit cigarettes in small amount through concealment in the vessel during the return trips from the Mainland for local distribution in Hong Kong and profit making.

Smuggling is a serious offence under the Import and Export Ordinance. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Any contravention to the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance attracts a maximum fine of $1 million and imprisonment for 2 years.

The Customs will strengthen intelligence analysis and take continuous actions against smuggling activities. Members of the public are urged to report any suspected smuggling activities through the Customs 24-hour Hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Saturday, July 3, 2010

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