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Hong Kong Customs detects large-scale illicit cigarette smuggling case and seizes suspected illicit cigarettes worth about $180 million (with photo)

22 November 2022


Hong Kong Customs on November 15 mounted an anti-illicit cigarette operation in Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung and detected a large-scale illicit cigarette smuggling case with a total seizure of about 64 million suspected illicit cigarettes. The estimated market value and the duty potential were respectively $180 million and $120 million approximately.

On that day, Customs officers intercepted three container trucks at two container yards near Tsing Yi Road, Tsing Yi, and Container Port Road South, Kwai Chung, in the morning. Upon inspection, about 31 million suspected illicit cigarettes were seized inside three 40-foot containers. After a follow-up investigation, Customs officers further seized about 33 million suspected illicit cigarettes inside another three 40-foot containers inside the two container yards.

During the operation, Customs officers arrested three male drivers, aged between 50 and 63, suspected to be connected with the case. Six containers suspected to be involved in the case have also been detained.

An 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.

Including the suspected illicit cigarettes seized in this operation, Customs had seized about 640 million suspected illicit cigarettes this year as at yesterday (November 21), exceeding last year's total seizure amount of about 427 million suspected illicit cigarettes by 50 per cent.

As the Christmas and New Year holidays are approaching, Customs believes that illicit cigarette syndicates took the opportunity to smuggle a large quantity of illicit cigarettes in order to ensure a stable supply for the local or overseas illicit cigarette markets.

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.

Smuggling is a serious offence. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

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 on November 15 mounted an anti-illicit cigarette operation in Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung and detected a large-scale illicit cigarette smuggling case with a total seizure of about 64 million suspected illicit cigarettes. The estimated market value and the duty potential were respectively $180 million and $120 million approximately. Photo shows the suspected illicit cigarettes seized. (Opens a new window)
Hong Kong Customs on November 15 mounted an anti-illicit cigarette operation in Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung and detected a large-scale illicit cigarette smuggling case with a total seizure of about 64 million suspected illicit cigarettes. The estimated market value and the duty potential were respectively $180 million and $120 million approximately. Photo shows the suspected illicit cigarettes seized.

 

Ends/Tuesday, November 22, 2022

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