Hong Kong Customs yesterday (November 18) swooped on an illicit cigarette distribution and storage facility in Yuen Long, resulting in the seizure of 0.85 million sticks of illicit cigarettes valued at $1.5 million, with a duty potential of about $1 million. Two men, aged 20 and 35, were arrested while two goods vehicles and a private car were also seized.
About 30 officers of the Customs Anti-Illicit-Cigarette Investigation Division began surveillance on a syndicate's smuggling activities two weeks ago before carrying out the operation yesterday in Pak Sha Tsuen, Kung Um Road, Yuen Long.
Some 0.85 million sticks of illicit cigarettes were seized and two men were arrested at a warehouse. Two goods vehicles and a private car suspected of being used to convey the illicit cigarettes were also seized near the warehouse.
The cigarettes were found hidden between layers of wooden boards and some cartons. It is believed that the cigarettes were smuggled to Hong Kong and repackaged in the warehouse. The cigarettes had been grouped and packed in different brands and were ready for distribution to various outlets.
Divisional Commander of Anti-Illicit-Cigarette Investigation Division, Mr Mark Lee, stressed today (November 19) at a press briefing that under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession, selling or buying illicit cigarettes committed an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.
He reiterated that Hong Kong Customs will continue to take stringent enforcement against cigarette smuggling activities to protect revenue. Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarettes activities to the Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.
Ends/Friday, November 19, 2010