TOUGHER penalties for smuggling, which are expected to pass into law by early next year, will give further clout to a police anti-smuggling task force that has already posted impressive results in its clampdown on cross-border crime. Since being established in February 1991, the task force has arrested more than 300 smugglers and seized nearly $100 million worth of goods. Figures show that smuggling has dropped significantly since the task force went into action. Last month, goods valued at $1,476,000 were seized, compared to $7,150,000 in August 1992. Luxury car thefts - an indicator of smuggling levels - dropped to 89 last month, compared to 144 in August last year. The task force's Senior Superintendent Laurie Poots believes the ultimate aim of eliminating the use of purpose-built smuggling boats is close to being achieved. ''We launched a round-the-clock operation codenamed Disavow in April, which has used all available resources to deny smugglers access to land-based loading sites as well as intercepting them at sea before they enter Hong Kong waters,'' Mr Poots said. ''Operation Disavow has resulted in the arrest of 157 alleged smugglers and the seizure of $24,427,730 worth of goods, which I consider a very successful record. ''To further our aim of wiping out the use of high-speed craft to smuggle goods out of our waters, we are looking forward to more effective legislation being passed to increase the penalties meted out to convicted smugglers. ''At the moment, the amendment to the legislation, which will provide for tougher penalties, is at an advanced stage of the drafting process and I expect it will be put before the Legislative Council in December. ''Tougher penalties will be a great aid to us, as while we have been successful at catching smugglers the added deterrent of longer jail terms will go a long way towards ridding Hong Kong of the criminals who insist on using high-powered boats, with no regard to the danger they pose, to smuggle goods into China,'' he said.