Eviction threat to cigarette smugglers on public housing estates

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2012, 3:18am

Public housing estate tenants who place phone orders for contraband cigarettes to be delivered to their homes may face eviction if arrested and convicted, a senior customs officer said.

Wan Hing-chuen, divisional commander of the customs services' anti-illicit-cigarette investigation unit, issued the warning after a task force detected 96 phone-order cases.

As a result 119 people, aged between 18 and 73, were arrested over the past seven months. They included 61 tobacco buyers, of which 56 were public housing tenants. The others were traffickers and delivery workers.

A total of 88 were convicted of either buying or selling illicit tobacco. The maximum penalty is a HK$1 million fine and a two-year prison sentence.

Wan said that if public housing flats were found to be involved in illegal cigarette activities, customs would notify the Housing Department for follow-up action.

"Penalty marks may be awarded and tenancies may even be liable to termination under the Housing Department's marking scheme for estate management enforcement," he said.

The marking scheme, introduced in 2003, covers 28 misdeeds, each of which carries three, five, seven or 15 penalty points according to the degree of seriousness. If a tenant accrues 16 points within two years, the tenancy is liable for termination.