Customs officers have seized illicit cigarettes worth HK$3.3 million and arrested three suspected smugglers in Tsing Yi, the government announced on Thursday.
A customs spokesman said the haul involved 110 boxes holding a total of around 1.3 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes. The cargo is worth about HK$3.3 million and the duty potential on the cigarettes is HK$2.3 million.
Customs officers discovered the illicit cigarettes on board a cross-boundary container truck and a local lorry, which were stopped at the roadside of Tsing Yi Road on Wednesday.
The officers spotted three men behaving suspiciously while moving the boxes from the container truck to the local lorry, and discovered the illicit cigarettes in the two vehicles, the spokesman said.
The three men, aged 23 to 55, were arrested and the vehicles seized.
The men are members of a syndicate that is trying to smuggle a large number of illicit cigarettes into Hong Kong before the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holidays – which will occur in less than two weeks – the spokesman said.
The syndicate has refined its methods of smuggling in trucks and delivering the illicit cargo to customers in Hong Kong, he said.
“These cigarettes were sorted and packed in different types of packaging, according to local orders, for quick delivery to the black market. A large quantity of genuine cargo was used as camouflage, to prevent customs officers from detecting them,” the spokesman said.
Possessing or dealing in illicit cigarettes can lead to a two-year jail sentence and HK$1 million fine under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance.
The seizure coincided with a high-profile crackdown this week against cross-border parallel goods traders near the mainland border.