Hong Kong Customs on September 19 detected a large-scale illicit cigarette smuggling case and seized a total of about 21.6 million suspected illicit cigarettes with an estimated market value of about $59 million and a duty potential of about $41 million in Tsing Yi and Yuen Long.
During an anti-illicit cigarette operation conducted in Tsing Yi in the afternoon on that day, Customs officers intercepted a container truck near Tsing Keung Street and seized about 10.3 million suspected illicit cigarettes inside a 40-foot container. After an initial investigation, Customs officers searched another 40-foot container at a container yard in Yuen Long and further seized about 11.3 million suspected illicit cigarettes.
During the operation, Customs officers arrested two men, aged 51 and 57, suspected to be connected with the case and detained two containers suspected to be involved.
An investigation is ongoing. Customs will continue to trace the source and the flow of the illicit cigarettes. The likelihood of further arrests is not ruled out.
Including the suspected illicit cigarettes seized in this operation, Customs had seized about 440 million suspected illicit cigarettes this year as at September 19, exceeding last year's total seizure amount of about 427 million suspected illicit cigarettes.
Customs will continue its risk assessment and intelligence analysis for interception at source as well as through its multi-pronged enforcement strategy targeting storage, distribution and peddling to spare no effort in combating illicit cigarette activities.
Smuggling is a serious offence. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.
Customs reminds members of the public that it is an offence to buy or sell illicit cigarettes. Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession of, selling or buying illicit cigarettes commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.
Members of the public may report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ends/Friday, September 23, 2022