Customs seize diamonds valued at HK$5.5 million hidden in car at Shenzhen border

Driver thought to be smuggling them into mainland to be made into jewellery

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 7:30am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 7:30am

Hong Kong customs officers have enhanced their inspection of cross-border vehicles at local border checkpoints following the seizure of HK$5.5 million worth of diamonds hidden on board a Shenzhen-bound car in an anti-smuggling operation.

Officers arrested the car’s driver, 61, on suspicion of attempting to export unmanifested goods. The Import and Export Ordinance offence carries a maximum penalty of a seven-year jail term and a HK$2 million fine.

According to the Customs and Excise Department, the car was intercepted for inspection at Shenzhen Bay Control Point on Tuesday evening.

“A batch of suspected smuggled diamonds was found in the private car’s glove box,” its spokesman said, adding that the haul had an estimated street value of HK$5.5 million.

The driver was released on bail pending further investigation and no charge has been laid. The department said the investigation was still continuing.

A batch of suspected smuggled diamonds was found in the private car’s glove box
customs spokesman

A source with knowledge of the case said the diamonds were intended to be smuggled into Shenzhen to avoid import restrictions and mainland taxes.

“It is possible the diamonds were being taken to the mainland’s processing factory to be made into jewellery before being smuggled back to Hong Kong,” the source said.

He added that carrying diamonds in person in or out of Hong Kong via the city’s control points was not a breach of Hong Kong law.

It is understood the city’s customs officials have strengthened inspection of cross-border vehicles at local control points after mainland officers detected diamond-smuggling activities at checkpoints in Shenzhen.

On March 13, a smuggler was arrested after mainland customs officers found 1,000 diamonds hidden in his shoes at Luohu crossing, which links to the city’s Lo Wu immigration control point.

On March 4, Shenzhen officers seized 1,554 diamonds weighing 164 carats hidden in nut packaging when a mainland man was intercepted at the same control point.