Customs and Police officers cracked a total of 58 cases in connection with illicit cigarettes in a month-long joint operation codenamed 'Forklift' starting from April 1 to clamp down on the black spots of illicit cigarettes in Wan Chai.
The main objective of the operation was to suppress the activities involving illicit cigarettes and to arrest people buying, selling or dealing with illicit cigarettes.
During the operation, Customs officers arrested eight persons aged between 22 and 42 and seized about 153,000 sticks of illicit cigarettes. The total value of the seizure was about $230,000 and the duty potential about $120,000. The officers had also crushed two storage centres of illicit cigarettes.
The eight arrested persons included four Vietnamese men, three local men and one Mainland Chinese man. They were subsequently charged with the offence of "dealing with goods to which the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance was applied" under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance.
Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, any person who is convicted of dealing, possession, selling or buying illicit cigarettes will be liable to a maximum penalty of a fine of $1 million and two years' imprisonment.
Customs officers will continue to stay vigilant and take similar enforcement actions to crack down on illicit cigarette activities.
Customs appeals to members of the public to call the 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 to report any activities relating to illicit cigarettes.
Ends/Saturday, 30 April 2005