Customs officers have cracked 56 cases relating to illicit cigarettes in a four-day territory-wide operation codenamed "Cougar 19" which started on Tuesday (September 14).
Officers from the Revenue and General Investigation Bureau and Special Task Force arrested people for buying, selling or dealing in illicit cigarettes in an effort to curb the peddling of illicit cigarettes at various black spots.
During the operation, Customs officers arrested 48 people aged 19 to 69 in separate 56 cases. They also seized a total of about 990,000 sticks of illicit cigarettes, worth about $1.52 million and with a duty potential of about $800,000.
Of those arrested, 43 were arrested for selling illicit cigarettes and five for buying illicit cigarettes from peddlers.
Customs officers also uncovered seven storage centres for illicit cigarettes in Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, San Po Kong, Fanling, Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung and Tuen Mun, resulting in the arrest of nine people and the seizure of 900,000 sticks of illicit cigarettes. The seized cigarettes were worth about $1.37 million and had a duty potential of about $720,000.
A spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department said today (September 17) that Hong Kong Customs would continue to stay vigilant and take similar enforcement action to crack down on such illicit activities.
He appealed to members of the public to call the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 to report suspected illicit cigarettes activities.
According to the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, any person who is convicted of dealing with, selling or buying illicit cigarettes is liable to a maximum penalty of a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.
Ends/Friday, September 17, 2004