25 left-hand drive cars seized in Customs swoop
By CLIFFORD LO
CUSTOMS have made their largest seizure of smuggled left-hand drive vehicles, which for the first time included a Jaguar.
The 25 cars are worth $10 million but could have fetched $30 million if they had reached their intended destination of Huangpu in Guangdong.
'It involved a total of 12 makes including Japanese and German-made vehicles. But the Jaguar is the first seen,' senior Superintendent Ronald Au Yee-leung, of the department's Prosecution, Intelligence and Investigation Bureau, said.
Last year, Customs officers seized only three smuggled left-hand drive vehicles in two separate cases.
But there were 68 such vehicles seized in six cases in the first 10 months this year.
'It suggests that the market for left-hand drive vehicles is still open in China,' Mr Au said.
'If there is demand, there is always a market. In China, all makes of vehicles are in demand.' The cars were imported legally but there are no documents for their export.
The consignment was discovered inside eight containers on board the vessel Tung Yun, which was intercepted off Yau Ma Tei Anchorage.
Six mainland crew aged between 24 and 51 were detained but later released.
Officers later arrested five Hong Kong residents including the 37-year-old owner of the cars, three other men and a woman, in Yuen Long and Shamshuipo.
Several members of the Hong Kong-based syndicate, believed to have smuggled two shipments to China, are still at large.
Mr Au said all left-hand drive vehicles were registered with his department and a permit was needed for their export.