Hong Kong Customs detects suspected COVID-19 oral drugs smuggling case at airport (with photo)

20 Jan 2023

Hong Kong Customs on January 19 detected one suspected medicine smuggling case and seized about 2 100 boxes of controlled COVID-19 oral drugs with an estimated market value of about $7 million at Hong Kong International Airport.

Through risk analysis, Customs on that day intercepted and conducted customs clearance on an incoming male passenger from India at the airport. The batch of suspected controlled COVID-19 oral drugs were found in four check-in carton boxes carried by him. The 43-year-old male passenger was immediately arrested.

Upon a follow-up investigation, Customs officers found that two of the check-in carton boxes belonged to another incoming male passenger who was on the same flight with the above arrested person. The 40-year-old man was then arrested at the airport.

Two charges with one count of importing prohibited articles not under and in accordance with an import licence and one count of possession of part I poison will be laid against the two arrested men. They will appear at the Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts tomorrow (January 21).

An investigation is ongoing and the likelihood of further arrests is not ruled out.

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.

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person who imports pharmaceutical products and medicines without a valid import 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.

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 violation of the above-mentioned ordinances to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).

Ends/Friday, January 20, 2023
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