Customs thwarts smuggling of luxury left-hand-drive vehicles

27 May 2005

Customs officers from the Ports and Maritime Command cracked a sea smuggling case involving two luxury left-hand-drive vehicles on Wednesday (May 25).

At 9.15pm, officers of the Harbour and River Trade Division boarded a river trade vessel arriving from Shekou at Yaumatei Anchorage for cargo examination. They examined a 40-foot container declared to be carrying leather. According to the shipping document, the container was supposed to be offloaded in Hong Kong for transshipment to Dalian by an ocean going vessel.

After an inspection, the officers found no leather product but two used luxury left-hand-drive vehicles, including a utility vehicle and a saloon car, estimated to be worth $0.75 million in total.

As a result, two male Mainlanders, namely a 40-year-old captain and a 41-year-old cargo staff, were arrested for importing unmanifested cargo.

Preliminary investigations showed that one of vehicles had been used in Canada. Moreover, the two seized vehicles had been shipped from Canada to the Mainland earlier for ultimate delivery to Dalian.

A spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department said today (May 27) the Department did not rule out the possibility that the seized vehicles were stolen vehicles, and believed that the vehicles were deliberately arranged to transship via Hong Kong in order to minimise the risk of being detected by the Mainland authorities.

Investigations into the case are in progress. In subsequent investigations, Customs officers arrested two local men, a 37-year-old manager of a shipping company and a 46-year-old manager of a forwarding company yesterday (May 26).

The spokesman added, "Customs officers will continue to stay vigilant and take swift actions to crack down on sea smuggling activities."

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, importing unmanifested cargo is a serious offence. Offenders are liable to the maximum penalty of $2 million and seven years' imprisonment.

Ends/Friday, May 27, 2005

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