Customs chief says seizure of black market cigarettes worth HK$2.5 million shows illegal activities in Hong Kong are ‘under control’
Two arrested as assistant superintendent Brian Chan hails enhanced enforcement across the city
The seizure of nearly one million cigarettes worth HK$2.5 million (US$318,000) shows that illegal activities in Hong Kong are “under control”, customs official Brian Chan Kai-ho said on Thursday.
Chan, the assistant superintendent of the Customs and Excise Department’s illicit cigarette investigation division, said enhanced enforcement had led to a surge in the seizure of untaxed cigarettes.
In the department’s latest success, two men were arrested on Wednesday evening after officers stopped them as they were pushing a trolley piled high with boxes containing thousands of cigarettes outside an industrial unit in Wong Tai Sin.
The pair, aged 25 and 39, were being held for questioning on Thursday and had not been charged.
“The two men were escorted into one of the flats in the industrial building, where officers seized more than 50 boxes containing about 900,000 contraband cigarettes,” Chan said.
The assistant superintendent said the haul – from an industrial flat on Tai Yua Street in San Po Kong – had an estimated street value of HK$2.5 million with a duty potential of HK$1.7 million. It was believed to be intended to supply Kowloon East.
Chan said an initial investigation showed the flat had been used as a storage facility for the contraband for several weeks.
The haul came amid an 87.5 per cent surge in the seizure of untaxed cigarettes in the area in the first three months of this year, according to a customs official.
Figures show customs officers seized about six million contraband cigarettes with an estimated street value of HK$16.2 million in the first quarter of this year. There were 3.2 million cigarettes valued at HK$8.6 million seized in the same period last year.
Chan said the cigarettes were mainly found in illegal storage facilities, or on goods vehicles used to deliver the contraband.
In Hong Kong, dealing with, possessing, selling or buying illicit cigarettes carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a HK$1 million fine.
Members of the public can report any suspected illicit cigarettes activities to a 24-hour hotline on +852 2545 6182.