CAR SMUGGLING syndicates are developing new markets outside Guangdong, an anti-smuggling officer said yesterday following a record seizure.
Thirty-two new left-hand drive cars worth $12 million and destined for Xiamen, Fujian were seized.
'It's the first time smuggled vehicles bound for a non-Guangdong city have been stopped,' said assistant Superintendent Lam Sze-hua of the Anti-Smuggling Taskforce.
He said officers had previously only found cars being smuggled to coastal areas like Nanhai and Huidong in Guangdong.
'We believe the syndicates have been forced to develop new markets in northern parts of China following tough measures against car smuggling in Guangdong.
'However, new luxury cars are in demand in other provinces,' Mr Lam said.
The syndicates are attempting to avoid hefty taxation of up to 150 per cent on new luxury cars in China.
Mr Lam said officers would raise the issue with mainland authorities.
The operation on Wednesday night, mounted by about 40 officers, netted 15 Honda Accords, six Toyota Camrys, 10 Mitsubishi jeeps and one Lexus.
The vehicles were discovered inside nine containers on board a Chinese cargo vessel Tian Ma, which was intercepted in East Lamma Channel, off Ap Lei Chau.
Mr Lam said the goods were declared as electronic parts. Twenty-four Chinese crew were released but officers believe an arrest would be made this week.
Mr Lam believed the syndicate, run by dealers of left-hand drive vehicles, had smuggled cars into China in the past few months.
The latest seizure brings to 125 the number of left-hand drive vehicles this year, compared with just three last year.