Hong Kong Customs today (April 28) swooped on an illicit cigarette smuggling syndicate in Western Wholesale Food Market. On board a cross-boundary lorry and two local lorries, a total of 387 boxes containing 3 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes were found. The total value is about $7.5 million with a duty potential of $5.1 million. In the operation, three Hong Kong men (aged 22 to 42) were arrested, and three lorries were seized.
At about 2.30am today, while conducting an anti-illicit cigarette operation in Sai Wan, Customs officers of Anti-illicit-cigarette Investigation Division spotted a suspicious cross-boundary lorry inside Western Wholesale Food Market. Three men were seen off-loading some carton boxes from the lorry to two local lorries. Customs officers then took action and found 387 boxes of illicit cigarettes. The three men were arrested immediately.
Investigation revealed that the illicit cigarette smuggling syndicate was trying to smuggle a large number of illicit cigarettes into Hong Kong before the holiday. The illicit cigarettes were manifested as fresh fruit, and were sorted and packed in different types of packing according to local order for quick delivery to the market. A large quantity of fresh fruit was used as camouflage to prevent Customs officers from detection.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, importing unmanifested cargo is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.
Customs will continue to take stringent enforcement against cigarette smuggling activities to protect government revenue.
Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.
Ends/Saturday, April 28 2012