CIGARETTE-smuggling gangs may have turned to China for new recruits to cut costs. The development emerged after the seizure of three million cigarettes with a duty potential of $1.8 million in four raids yesterday in the New Territories and San Po Kong. Eight people were arrested, five with mainland passports. Customs officers suggested syndicates were attempting to slash overheads. 'It is the first time we have arrested so many mainland passport holders. Syndicate bosses will pay less for their service,' said Superintendent Pang Kui-sum, Customs and Excise Department group head. 'We will monitor the situation and inform China,' he said. Two million cigarettes were seized from a warehouse in Tsuen Wan and a unit in Yuen Long at 10.30 am. Officers believed these were smuggled past the land border concealed in a consignment of eggs. 'We gathered intelligence about two months ago and became aware there was a syndicate active in the New Territories. We developed the information and moved in,' said Assistant Superintendent Li Chun-fai, head of the cigarette anti-smuggling taskforce. Six people, aged 22 to 37, were arrested: two Hong Kong Chinese males and four mainland passport holders, including a woman. In related raids at 6.30 pm last night, customs officers found a further one million cigarettes in two apartments on Luk Hop Street in San Po Kong. A Hong Kong man, 41, and a mainlander, 28, working under the Labour Importation scheme were detained. All those arrested are expected to be charged under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance which can bring a maximum fine of 100,000 and two years jail.