Acting on intelligence from Indian Customs, Hong Kong Customs officers of Ports and Maritime Command foiled an attempt to smuggle three containers of red sandal wood, worth about $580,000, into Hong Kong.
The three 40-foot containers originated from Calcutta, India were shipped to Hong Kong via Singapore. The goods were declared as 250 crates of "die cast components of aluminium".
After inspection at Kwai Chung Customhouse on October 27, Customs officers found the three containers fully packed with unmanifested logs of red sandal wood, weighing 58 metric tonnes.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department confirmed the red sandal wood to be scheduled endangered species listed under the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance. The timber is generally used for manufacture of high quality furniture.
Follow-up investigation by Customs showed that the three containers were transshipment cargoes destined for the Mainland. So far, nobody has been arrested.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing unmanifested cargoes is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.
Under the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance, any person found guilty of trading endangered species for commercial purpose is liable to a maximum fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for one year.
Ends/Monday, October 31, 2005