A TASKFORCE set up to smash smuggling syndicates will soon become a victim of its own success as police chiefs prepare to scale down its operations. The Anti-Smuggling Taskforce, formed four years ago to crack down on daring illegal voyages through Hong Kong waters by high-powered tai fei speedboats, is set to be substantially restructured, sources revealed yesterday. A drastic reduction in the number of tai feis speeding stolen cars and electrical goods from Hong Kong to the mainland has resulted in a corresponding drop in the amount of work for the taskforce. The unit of more than 100 officers at present combines resources and manpower from disciplined services including Marine Police, the Police Tactical Unit, Customs and Excise, and the Royal Navy. Two years ago, at the height of the tai fei smuggling boom, the action was fast and furious, with sometimes dozens of sightings of the boats a night, numerous chases and even gun battles on the South China Sea. In one of the most violent incidents, in January last year, about 100 shots were fired when the taskforce intercepted two speedboats off Sai Kung. The future of the body depends on continuing support from its different elements. But it is understood some can no longer justify their support - with the taskforce reporting just seven sightings of suspected 'fast-moving targets' for the whole of February. After a review in about a month's time, it is likely the work of land-based elements such as shore patrols and observation posts will be curtailed and the taskforce will become part of the Marine Police. A revamp will not leave Hong Kong waters vulnerable to incursions like the one involving Chinese security forces on March 18, as the taskforce was set up to target the fast-moving tai feis. Taskforce Senior Superintendent Norrie MacKillop said: 'There may be a restructuring, but it is still under consideration. 'It is not going to be disbanded. 'There has been a reduction in sightings, but if there is a reduction in robberies in Central you don't take the police out,' he said. Mr MacKillop put the drop in activity down to the taskforce's success as well as the co-operation of mainland authorities and a trend for smugglers to take stolen cars across the land border in containers. Roger Goodwin, a spokesman for the British Garrison which provides manpower, helicopters and patrol craft to the taskforce, said the group was a 'remarkable example of what could be achieved by disciplined forces working together'. 'We are pleased to be a part of it and will continue to support it for as long as we can,' he said. In the past, Royal Navy officers have made headlines with their involvement in dramatic chases. Last year, an officer in a Navy fast-pursuit craft launched from HMS Plover chased a speedboat and boarded the vessel near Basalt Island, only to find himself under attack from the machete-wielding crew.