Hong Kong Customs and Macao Customs mounted a joint enforcement operation in June this year to vigorously combat sea smuggling activities through intelligence exchanges between the two places. During the operation, the two Customs administrations seized smuggled goods, including expensive food ingredients, red wine, electronic products and cash, with a total estimated market value of over $110 million.
With recent rigorous enforcement actions against speedboat and land-based cross-boundary smuggling activities conducted by the law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong and the Mainland, Hong Kong Customs and Macao Customs believed that criminals had switched to using river trade vessels for smuggling goods from Hong Kong to the Mainland via Macao in order to evade detection by law enforcement agencies. Therefore, the two Customs administrations mounted a joint enforcement operation to combat such crime.
Through intelligence exchanges with Hong Kong Customs, Macao Customs on June 16 intercepted a target vessel that departed from Hong Kong for Macao and seized a batch of suspected smuggled goods, including expensive food ingredients and electronic products, with an estimated market value of about $65 million on board the vessel. Two men, aged 40 and 69, suspected to be connected with the case were arrested.
Hong Kong Customs then intercepted a river trade vessel heading to Macao in the western waters of Hong Kong through intelligence analysis on June 18. A batch of suspected smuggled goods, including red wine, beauty needles, powdered formula and electronic products, with an estimated market value of about $22 million was seized on board the vessel. In addition, Customs officers found that smugglers used a container of the vessel to smuggle cash and seized about $23 million. After a follow-up investigation, two men, aged 45 and 76, suspected to be connected with the case were arrested by Hong Kong Customs.
An investigation is ongoing and the likelihood of further arrests is not ruled out. Hong Kong Customs will conduct follow-up investigations in accordance with the Import and Export Ordinance (IEO) and the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO).
Hong Kong Customs will continue to work closely with the Mainland Customs, Macao Customs and overseas law enforcement agencies to vigorously combat cross-boundary smuggling activities and money laundering activities through intelligence exchanges and joint enforcement actions.
Smuggling is a serious offence. Under the IEO, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.
Under the OSCO, a person commits an offence if he or she deals with any property knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that such property in whole or in part directly or indirectly represents any person's proceeds of an indictable offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $5 million and imprisonment for 14 years while the crime proceeds are also subject to confiscation.
Members of the public may report any suspected smuggling activities and money laundering activities to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (email@example.com).
Ends/Sunday, June 26, 2022