Lin injury puts fakers out of action, too, says customs
Customs officers at Hong Kong airport had only discovered one consignment of fake Jeremy Lin basketball jerseys by the time news broke this week that the Asian-American basketball sensation was injured. That's despite the availability of the unauthorised tops in the city's markets.
Now officers believe the announcement that the New York Knicks star needed surgery on his left knee and would be out of action for the next six weeks will put paid to further attempts to smuggle fake Lin merchandise for now.
The 170 counterfeit Lin jerseys were found at Chek Lap Kok airport en route from the mainland to the United States soon after the sudden emergence of 'Linsanity' in February, said Ngan Hing-cheung, acting group head at customs' airport command. 'In the US, they have all gone out of stock. Even if you manage to buy one, it will cost you nearly HK$1,000,' he added.
Ngan said that both the fake tops and the packaging were poor quality. 'These jerseys would cost only HK$50 to HK$60 at the Ladies' Market,' he added.
Since February's haul, the airport customs officials have failed to find any more knock-off Lin jerseys. 'Maybe we need to wait for his next round of winning games,' said Ngan.
The Customs and Excise Department said there were 615 seizures of restricted goods at the airport last year, down from 753 in 2010. The value of goods seized rose to about HK$230 million from HK$200 million and 252 people were arrested.
Drugs accounted for half of the seizures. On one occasion, officers seized 3kg of cocaine concealed inside seven or eight big hollowed-out screws used in ships. The illicit cargo was being carried by an African travelling from Doha to Hong Kong.
Ngan said X-rays showed the screws were uneven in density. 'We tried various means to open the screws. But they were well welded,' he said. 'We used heavy tools to drill a hole at the bottom of the screws and found there were drugs.'
Seizures of tobacco increased from 5,600kg in 2010 to 8,600kg last year, mostly bound for Britain. Some was concealed inside dolls. Ngan attributed the rise to a growing popularity of hand-rolled cigarettes.
Last year, officers also seized 250kg of chewing tobacco, which is popular among South Asians in Hong Kong. That was down from 770kg in 2010.
Other restricted goods seized at the airport included weapons, endangered animals and plants, counterfeit drugs, rhino horns and ivory.