Customs officers from the Ports and Maritime Command cracked a sea smuggling case involving $3.68 million worth of VCDs on Tuesday (August 3).
While patrolling by speedboat around midnight on August 3, a team of Customs officers attached to the Marine Strike and Support Division intercepted a suspicious local fishing vessel heading out of Hong Kong in the waters off Tat Hong Point. The vessel was heading for the Mainland.
In a suspected altered compartment in the engine room of the vessel, Customs officers found 184,000 unmanifested VCDs.
As a result, the officers arrested four Mainland crewmen, aged 18 to 43.
They have just been charged and will appear in the Eastern Magistrates' Courts today (August 5).
A spokesman for the Customs and Excised Department said today (August 5) that this was the largest seizure of smuggled VCDs by sea by means of a fishing vessel so far this year.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, the maximum penalty for the offence of "attempting to export unmanifested cargo" is a fine of $2 million and seven years' imprisonment.
The offence of "making use of an altered structure of any vessel for the purpose of smuggling" is subject to the same maximum penalty of $2 million and seven years' imprisonment.
The spokesman warned that the vessel involved in the offence would be confiscated after conviction.
Ends/Thursday, August 5, 2004