Contraband cigarettes with a retail value of HK$2 million were seized in a Kwai Chung car park yesterday after being smuggled from the mainland by truck. Three men including the driver were arrested when the 110 boxes containing the cigarettes were being unloaded in the Container Port Road South car park at about 6.30am. It was the third such case cracked by customs officers in two weeks, according to Andy Hui Wai-ming, head of the Anti-Illicit Cigarette Investigation Division. He believed the delivery of three consignments involving 4.1 million cigarettes with a retail value of HK$6.2 million were arranged by three different syndicates trying to cash in ahead of the Lunar New Year. Some 119 million cigarettes worth HK$178 million were seized last year, compared with HK$78 million in 2006. After a month-long investigation into an alleged smuggling syndicate controlled by a triad gang, police and customs officers lay in wait before dawn yesterday. The truck crossed the border via the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint and arrived at the car park at about 6.30am. Officers swooped in to make the arrests as two men unloaded boxes from the truck. Police seized 1.3 million dutiable cigarettes and arrested the men, aged 21 and 42, along with the 62-year-old driver. The consignment had been declared as plastic strips and mixed with more than 200 legitimate boxes of garments, according to Chief Inspector Anthony Tsang Ching-fo from the New Territories South regional intelligence unit. 'The investigation indicated that the syndicate had been in operation for about half a year,' he said, adding that police were still trying to identify key figures behind the syndicate. The trio were being held for questioning and the customs department was following the case. Their officers said an initial examination showed the cost of producing the consignment was less than HK$200,000. Mr Hui said there were a few black spots in the city where peddlers sold illicit cigarettes. There were more than 20 such black spots late last year. He said officers had noticed that smugglers were using logistics companies to smuggle contraband cigarettes from Guangdong in an attempt to avoid detection.