Hong Kong Customs yesterday (January 18) detected three suspected medicine smuggling cases at Hong Kong International Airport. About 5 400 tablets and about 350 grams of suspected controlled medicines with a total estimated market value of about $250,000 were seized.
Customs officers on that day conducted customs clearance on three incoming male passengers from India via Thailand at the airport and seized the batch of suspected controlled medicines, including COVID-19 oral drugs and controlled virility products inside their check-in baggages. The three men, aged 32, 34 and 36, were subsequently arrested. Three suspected medicine smuggling cases involving inbound passengers were detected successfully.
Investigations of the above-mentioned three 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 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).