FS visits Customs officer injured in anti-illicit cigarette operation

23 Apr 2009

The Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, accompanied by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Richard Yuen, this afternoon (April 23) visited Customs officer Mr Yan Moon-fai at Tuen Mun Hospital.

Mr Yan sustained leg injuries while conducting an anti-illicit cigarette operation in Tai Sang Wai, Yuen Long late last night.

The incident occurred shortly after midnight when Customs officers from the Anti-Illicit-Cigarette Investigation Division conducted the operation. Two suspicious vehicles, a lorry and a light-goods van, were seen on a road near the Fairview Park.

While the officers, in two Customs vehicles, tried to stop the suspicious vehicles for a search, the lorry suddenly rammed into the Customs vehicles, injuring four Customs officers in one of the vehicles.

Mr Yan, sustaining leg injuries, was admitted to hospital in stable condition and the three other Customs officers were treated and discharged.

During the operation, about 1.8 million sticks of cigarettes worth about $3.6 million with a dutiable value of $2.2 million were found on the two vehicles.

The lorry driver, a 26-year-old man, was arrested. He will be charged under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance and the Customs and Excise Service Ordinance and will appear at the Fanling Magistrates' Courts tomorrow (April 24).

A spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department said that since the levying of the new tobacco duty in late February, Customs had stepped up enforcement action against illicit cigarette activities.

From February 25 to April 20, a total of 524 cases were detected with a seizure of 13.7 million sticks of illicit cigarettes worth about $26 million with a dutiable value of $16 million, he said.

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

Ends/Thursday, April 23, 2009

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