Eight mainlanders were arrested after nearly 4,000 bottles of brandy worth $1.6 million were seized on their way to the mainland early yesterday. The arrests took place on four motorised sampans off East Ninepin Island at around 7.15am, just minutes from the border. Police anti-smuggling taskforce Chief Inspector John Cameron believed the French brandy was genuine but had not had duty paid on it. Each bottle can fetch a market price of $420, including $85 tax. 'We believe that they loaded the brandy from a mother vessel which could not be located,' he said. The bottles of brandy were packed into 330 cases which carried marks of 'HKDNP' - Hong Kong Duty Not Paid. Police handed over the case to Customs officers for further investigation. The eight mainland men - aged between 26 and 35 - were detained last night. Customs officers smashed three syndicates after seizing 38,000 counterfeit watches and spare parts worth about $2 million from Lok Ma Chau control point and two storage centres at Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung. Customs officers intercepted an incoming goods vehicle and found the haul at Lok Ma Chau Control Point at 7am yesterday. Raids were then carried out at the centres. Seven men and three women were held.