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Hong Kong Customs raids four suspected illicit cigarette storage centres in New Territories and seizes suspected illicit cigarettes worth about $54 million (with photo)

18 November 2022


Hong Kong Customs yesterday (November 17) raided four suspected illicit cigarette storage centres and one vehicle suspected of distributing illicit cigarettes in New Territories West and New Territories North. A total of about 20 million suspected illicit cigarettes, with an estimated market value of about $54 million and a duty potential of about $38 million, were seized.

Customs officers mounted an anti-illicit cigarette operation in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Fanling areas yesterday afternoon to conduct an in-depth investigation against an illicit cigarette syndicate active in New Territories West and New Territories North. During the investigation, Customs officers intercepted two men who were unloading goods at an industrial building on Tin Hau Road, Tuen Mun, and seized about 1.8 million suspected illicit cigarettes from a lorry. The two men, aged 20 and 29, were arrested subsequently and the lorry suspected to be connected with the case was also detained.

After a follow-up investigation, Customs officers conducted searches at four metal huts in Tong Yan San Tsuen, Yuen Long; Tai Kong Po Tsuen, Kam Tin; and Ping Che, Fanling, last night. A total of about 18 million suspected illicit cigarettes were further seized.

Customs believes that the four metal huts were used as illicit cigarette storage centres by an illicit cigarette syndicate. The syndicate used metal huts in remote and concealed areas as a cover, which was intended to increase the difficulties for law enforcement by Customs. Moreover, the syndicate stored illicit cigarettes in different districts in order to diversify the risk and to minimise the loss after being detected.

Customs officers found in the metal huts that some of the suspected illicit cigarettes were concealed inside metal cans, speakers, hollowed books or transformer boxes. A large quantity of packing materials was also seized. It is believed that part of the illicit cigarettes would be concealed inside some goods and then transshipped overseas by the syndicate, apart from supplying illicit cigarettes in the local market.

Customs believes that the operation has successfully intercepted the supply of illicit cigarettes in New Territories West and New Territories North.

Investigation is ongoing. Customs will continue to trace the source and flow of the illicit cigarettes. The likelihood of further arrests is not ruled out.

Customs will continue its risk assessment and intelligence analysis for interception at source as well as through its multi-pronged enforcement strategy targeting storage, distribution and peddling to spare no effort in combating illicit cigarette activities.

Customs reminds members of the public that it is an offence to buy or sell illicit cigarettes. Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession of, selling or buying illicit cigarettes commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.

Members of the public may report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (November 17) raided four suspected illicit cigarette storage centres and one vehicle suspected of distributing illicit cigarettes in New Territories West and New Territories North. A total of about 20 million suspected illicit cigarettes, with an estimated market value of about $54 million and a duty potential of about $38 million, were seized. Photo shows some of the suspected illicit cigarettes seized. (Opens a new window)
Hong Kong Customs yesterday (November 17) raided four suspected illicit cigarette storage centres and one vehicle suspected of distributing illicit cigarettes in New Territories West and New Territories North. A total of about 20 million suspected illicit cigarettes, with an estimated market value of about $54 million and a duty potential of about $38 million, were seized. Photo shows some of the suspected illicit cigarettes seized.

 

Ends/Friday, November 18, 2022

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