Hong Kong customs busts ‘cunning’ smuggling ring with HK$30 million of shark fin, bird’s nest and wine

Nine men and two women were arrested during Tuesday’s operation, which followed a two-week surveillance operation and investigation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 7:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 9:14pm

Eleven Hongkongers have been arrested and HK$30 million worth of products, including shark fin and bird’s nest, seized after customs authorities dismantled what was described as a “cunning” smuggling ring.

Four men were first arrested at the Shenzhen Bay control point on Tuesday morning when HK$800,000 worth of bird’s nest and bottled red wine was found on board two seven-seater vehicles bound for the mainland.

In a subsequent raid at a Yuen Long logistics site, officers arrested another six individuals and found three more seven-seater vehicles each containing multiple boxes of bottled red wine and bags of bird’s nest.

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Officers later stormed a factory unit in Fanling, believed to have been used for storage and packaging by the alleged smugglers, and found even more bird’s nest, shark fin, red wine, vehicle parts and mobile phone screens. Another person was arrested at the factory unit.

In total, nine men and two women were arrested during Tuesday’s operation, which followed a two-week surveillance operation and investigation, authorities said on Wednesday.

Head of the special investigation unit of the Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau, Wan Hing-chuen, said 235 kg of bird’s nest, 64 kg of shark fin, 400 bottles of red wine and 41,000 mobile phone screens had been seized in the raids, “with a combined market value of about HK$30 million”. Six cars were also seized.

He described the smuggling syndicate as being “organised” and “cunning”.

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“They first stored the products in their warehouse, then transported them to the Yuen Long site and loaded them onto private cars to smuggle across the border into the mainland,” he said.

“The smugglers arranged to have one member posing as a passenger and placed only a small amount of smuggled items on board each car. They thought it would be easier to evade inspections at the control point by saying the products in the back seat were the belongings or the luggage of the passenger,” Wan said.

He said the investigation was still ongoing, and more arrests were possible.

Last month, marine police seized about HK$9 million worth of bird’s nest in an anti-smuggling operation in Sai Kung.

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, anyone found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo faces a maximum fine of HK$2 million and seven years jail.