14 Hongkongers arrested in smuggling bust

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 September, 2010, 12:00am


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At least 14 Hongkongers have been arrested by Shenzhen and Xian customs authorities along with 36 mainland suspects in a bust of six computer-smuggling gangs.

Police also seized laptop computers and other electronic appliances valued at 300 million yuan (HK$344 million).

Shenzhen customs said yesterday that they had seized 355 laptops and other electronic appliances as well as five cars and 2 million yuan in cash from the gangs, which had Hong Kong ringleaders and accomplices.

The arrests, which were made last week, followed an operation in the border city and Xian in which 300 police officers raided locations in Futian and elsewhere between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Police had earlier found that a large number of black-market IBM laptops and Apple iPads were being sold online.

They said a Hong Kong woman, believed to be the ringleader of one of the gangs that employed dozens of smugglers, had regularly sold untaxed laptops and electronic appliances to online shop owners.

Cross-border smuggling between Hong Kong and Shenzhen is rampant because of the differences in tax rates on electronic appliances between the mainland and the SAR.

Shenzhen customs seized nearly 400 iPads at the Lo Wu checkpoint between April and June this year after stocks of the popular gadgets ran dry in Shenzhen, driving their prices sky-high.

Individuals who take iPads from Hong Kong to the mainland on which duty has not been paid are liable to a 1,000 yuan fee, according to China News Service.

In May, 16 Hong Kong smugglers were sentenced to between 17 months and seven years in prison by the Shenzhen People's Intermediate Court, and fined a total of 1 million yuan. They were convicted of smuggling mobile phones and computer appliances valued at more than 100 million yuan between 2007 and 2008, evading taxes of nearly 20 million yuan, mainland media reported.