Attempt to smuggle VCDs foiled, 11 arrested

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 April, 2006, 12:00am

Goods worth $10.4m seized after marine police intercept boats from mainland

Marine police have arrested 11 people and seized smuggled goods worth $10.4 million after foiling an attempt to load the contraband on to 10 speedboats at sea.

The seizure was made after the fleet of unlit speedboats approaching from the mainland off Waglan Island was detected by radar.

The boats were less than 4km from the boundary of Hong Kong waters when they were spotted around 8.30pm on Wednesday.

Two marine police pursuit boats and a police launch were sent to the scene.

As the police craft arrived, the 10 speedboats - one loaded with goods - sped off towards the mainland, said Superintendent Jacky Ling Wai-po of the force's small boat division.

The loaded boat was intercepted about 900 metres inside Hong Kong waters. Two mainland men, aged 25 and 43, were arrested on board and 123 boxes of video discs seized.

At the same time, the marine police launch intercepted a 20-metre cargo vessel and officers seized 513 boxes of video discs wrapped in plastic bags on board.

Nine local men, including the owner, were arrested on board the Hong Kong-registered boat.

Mr Ling said the 636,000 VCDs - one of the biggest such seizures this year - were bound for Huidong in Guangdong.

'The video discs are of locally produced movies which had been on show in the city five to six years ago,' he said. 'But there is still a high demand for such movies in villages.'

He said the Customs and Excise Department would investigate whether the video discs infringed copyright law.

Last night, the 11 men, aged between 22 and 70, were still being held for questioning and no charges had been laid.

Mr Ling said the seizure was part of a continuing anti-smuggling operation being conducted with the marine and customs departments.

He said smuggled goods worth $60 million, including computer parts, audio and video equipment and American ginseng, were seized in February.

Last month, goods worth $6 million were seized, say police.