Customs smashes illicit oil detreating plant in Ta Ku Ling

19 Nov 2004

Customs officers from the Diesel Oil Enforcement Division this morning (November 19) smashed a large scale detreating plant of industrial diesel oil at Lei Uk Village in Ta Ku Ling, resulting in the seizure of about 20 000 litres of illicit oil and the arrest of two men.

Following extensive investigations and close surveillance against the above detreating plant, the officers raided the illicit oil detreating plant at 6 am after an oil tanker had entered. Customs officers succeeded in netting two men who had attempted to flee - a 34-year-old driver and a 57-year-old worker of the detreating plant.

Customs officers seized about 5 000 litres of illicit oil which was undergoing detreatment, and 15 000 litres onboard the oil tanker. The seizure was worth about $120,000, and with a duty potential of about $58,000.

Initial investigations showed that industrial diesel oil would first be pumped into the huge metal tanks from the oil tanker to undergo the detreatment process. In less than an hour, detreated oil would be collected by the oil tanker.

In the detreating plant, Customs officers found a large quantity of activated carbon used for absorbing the colouring from the industrial oil during the detreatment process.

The two men will later be charged under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance.

A spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department said today (November 19) that the detreating plant operated around midnight at most times in a bid to evade Customs detection.

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, buying and selling illicit oil is liable to prosecution. The maximum penalty is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.

Drivers concerned, once convicted, will have a criminal record and their vehicles will be forfeited.

When convicted twice in connection with illicit oil offence, drivers will have their driving licence suspended for six months. Those convicted thrice or more will have their driving licence suspended for more than six months.

The spokesman stressed that the Customs would continue to take rigorous enforcement action against illicit oil activities. He also appealed to members of the public to call the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 to report suspected illicit oil activities.

End/Friday, November 19, 2004

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