Customs swoop on illicit cigarette storage and distribution centre in Kwun Tong (with photo)

5 Jan 2011

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (January 4) swooped on an illicit cigarette storage and distribution facility inside an industrial building in Kwun Tong, resulting in the seizure of two million illicit cigarettes valued at about $3.8 million, with a duty potential of $2.4 million, and the arrest of a 43-year-old man.

Customs officers recently carried out an in-depth investigation into an active illicit cigarette syndicate in Eastern Kowloon. Yesterday afternoon, the officers intercepted a man taking some boxes into an apartment in a factory building in Kwun Tong and found illicit cigarettes inside the boxes. The officers searched the apartment subsequently and discovered about two million illicit cigarettes stored inside two rooms in the apartment.

The man, who claimed to be unemployed, was charged with "dealing with goods to which dutiable commodities applies" under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance. It is believed that the operation has smashed an illicit cigarette syndicate connected with selling illicit cigarettes by telephone orders.

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession, selling and buying illicit cigarettes commits an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for two years and a fine of $1 million.

With the approach of the Lunar New year, Customs Land Boundary Command, Special Task Force and Revenue and General Investigation Bureau will jointly take stringent enforcement measures against cigarette smuggling activities to protect government revenue. Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Wednesday, January 5, 2011

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