Hong Kong Customs detects four suspected medicine smuggling cases at airport (with photos)

12 Jan 2023

​Hong Kong Customs detected four suspected medicine smuggling cases at Hong Kong International Airport on January 9 and yesterday (January 11). More than 12 000 tablets, about 4 388 milliliters and about 186 grams of suspected controlled medicines, with a total estimated market value of about $540,000, were seized.

Customs officers yesterday conducted customs clearance on an outgoing female passenger heading to Hainan, the Mainland and an incoming male passenger from Bangkok, Thailand at the airport respectively. About 3 070 tablets, about 4 388ml and about 186g of suspected controlled medicines, including pain and fever relief medicines containing paracetamol, cold medicines, medicinal oils and eye drops, were seized from their hand-carried baggage. The 35-year-old female passenger and the 57-year-old male passenger were subsequently arrested. Two suspected medicine smuggling cases involving inbound and outbound passengers were detected successfully.

Moreover, Customs officers on January 9 and yesterday inspected at the airport two air parcels arriving in Hong Kong from Germany and India and seized a total of about 8 940 tablets of COVID-19 oral drugs. Two suspected medicine smuggling cases through airborne cargo were detected successfully.

Investigations of the above-mentioned four cases are ongoing.

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. Moreover, any person who imports or exports pharmaceutical products and medicines without a valid licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years.

Under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, any person who possesses any poison included in Part 1 of the Poisons List other than in accordance with provisions commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for two years.

Customs reminds members of the public that a passenger bringing into or out of Hong Kong any controlled medicines without a licence issued by the Department of Health may be liable to prosecution with subject items seized. However, medicines carried by a passenger in his/her personal baggage and in a reasonable quantity for his/her personal use may be exempted from the licensing requirement.

Furthermore, medicines classified as dangerous drugs, antibiotics or Part 1 poisons are also subject to control under
the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance (Cap. 134), the Antibiotics Ordinance (Cap. 137) or the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap. 138). The import or export of such medicines requires a doctor's prescription.

With the Lunar New Year around the corner, Customs will continue to take vigorous enforcement action against different kinds of smuggling activities before and during the holiday based on risk assessment and intelligence analysis. Members of the public may report any suspected smuggling activities to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).

Ends/Thursday, January 12, 2023
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