Customs seizes 1.34 million sticks of illicit cigarettes

28 May 2005

In a territory wide anti-illicit cigarette operation codenamed 'Cougar 25' which was mounted for the past five days (from May 23 to 27), Customs officers of the Revenue and General Investigation Bureau seized about 1.34 million sticks of illicit cigarettes worth $2.01 million with the duty potential of about $1.08 million.

A total of 49 persons including 33 men and 16 women, aged between 15 and 77, were arrested. They were charged with "dealing with goods to which Dutiable Commodities Ordinance was applied" under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance.

During the operation, Customs officers crushed four distribution and storage centres of illicit cigarettes leading to the seizure of about 1.2 million sticks of illicit cigarettes, valued at about $1.82 million with the duty potential of about $0.97 million.

In cracking 17 cases relating to delivery of illicit cigarettes by phone order, Customs officers seized about 52,000 sticks of illicit cigarettes, worth $83,000 with duty potential of about $42,000. Eighteen persons, aged between 15 and 53, were arrested. Telephone order leaflets and four mobile phones were also seized.

Customs officers also arrested 4 men and 2 women, aged between 42 and 75, suspected of having bought illicit cigarettes from peddlers.

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, the maximum penalty for selling, buying or dealing with dutiable cigarettes is a fine of $1 million and two years' imprisonment.

Hong Kong Customs urged members of the public to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities by calling the Customs hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Saturday, May 28, 2005

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