Customs strengthens enforcement against smuggling of powdered formula by syndicates

29 Apr 2014

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (April 28) cracked down a warehouse of a suspected smuggling syndicate for storing powdered formula for infants and children under 36 months (powdered formula) in North District. In the operation, Customs officers arrested two men and two women, aged between 31 and 65, and seized a total of 126 kilogrammes of powdered formula in 154 boxes, with a value of about $30,000.

With a view to combat powdered formula smuggling syndicate before the holiday, Customs officers yesterday afternoon conducted an operation near San Wan Road, Sheung Shui. A man and a woman, suspected to be controlling some general merchandise operators (GMOs) for smuggling powdered formula, were arrested at a stall and a batch of powdered formula was seized. At the same time, a man was arrested at Lo Wu Control Point when he attempted to smuggle powdered formula while departing Hong Kong. Subsequently, Customs officers searched the warehouse of the syndicate at an industrial building in Sheung Shui, resulting in the arrest of another woman and the further seizure of some powdered formula.

It was believed that a suspected powdered formula smuggling syndicate had been smashed. Investigation revealed that the syndicate ordered powdered formula from overseas countries and arranged the importation to Hong Kong via air freight. The powdered formula were delivered to the syndicate's warehouse for storage before distribution to the GMOs controlled by the syndicate. The GMOs then tried to export the powdered formula by an "ant-moving-home" approach. The four arrested persons are on bail pending further investigation.

The Import and Export (General) (Amendment) Regulation 2013 prohibits the unlicensed export of powdered formula for infants and children under 36 months. The prohibition does not apply to powdered formula not exceeding 1.8 kilogrammes in total net weight that is exported in the accompanied personal baggage of a person leaving Hong Kong. However, the person must be aged 16 or above and must not have left Hong Kong in the last 24 hours. Offenders may face a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years upon conviction.

Besides, under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of assisting with the carrying/keeping of an article, the export of which is prohibited other than in accordance with a license is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

The Customs will take continuous enforcement action against smuggling activities. Members of the public are welcomed to report any suspected smuggling activities to the Customs through Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Tuesday, April 29 2014

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