HK$11m worth of smuggled goods seized

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 June, 2009, 12:00am

Law enforcement officers seized HK$11 million worth of goods in two operations described as dealing a heavy blow to two syndicates that use speedboats to smuggle high-valued products to the mainland.

Yesterday's operation, involving more than 100 police and customs officers, targeted four speedboats, each with two people and fully laden with cargo, emerging from Tai Tam Bay off Stanley at about 6am, police said.

Officers seized HK$5 million worth of computer hard disks and electronic parts from one of the vessels, a mainland-registered twin-engine speedboat, after it broke down during a sea chase with police.

'Another speedboat immediately came to rescue the two persons and sped away,' Superintendent John Cameron, head of the Marine police small boat division, said. The three boats, carrying eight people, fled via the eastern boundary of Hong Kong waters and headed for the mainland.

In another operation, officers moved in on 15 smugglers seen moving boxes from a hut onto four speedboats docked at the Ma Wan Chung waterfront in Tung Chung on Lantau island at about 9.40pm on Monday. The gang abandoned the haul and escaped in the boats. They left the western boundary of Hong Kong waters and entered mainland waters.

Officers seized 4,700 computer hard disks, 9,500 mobile phones and 6,400 mobile phone parts. The consignment was worth HK$6 million.

No one was arrested in either incident. The Customs and Excise Department is following up the cases. The superintendent said the operations had dealt a 'significant blow' to the syndicates involved. He said police had recently noticed that smugglers were using speedboats equipped with three outboard engines to transport goods and evade arrest. Police would try different tactics to tackle the problem, he said.

The operations are part of an ongoing crackdown that has busted 30 smuggling cases since January and seized HK$54.4 million worth of goods. Six speedboats and 25 vehicles were confiscated and 13 people arrested. Police seized HK$53 million worth of goods in 52 smuggling cases last year and confiscated 26 vessels and 35 vehicles. Officers also arrested 58 people. Since mid-January, marine police, the Customs and Excise Department and the Government Flying Service have launched joint operations against smuggling, particularly relating to speedboats.

Mr Cameron said police would continue to conduct regular liaison and intelligence exchange with mainland counterparts.