Electric car with secret compartment used to smuggle phones and smartwatches from Hong Kong to Shenzhen
Customs officers arrest five men and seize HK$8 million worth of electronics
A cross-border smuggling ring that used an electric car to transport goods from Hong Kong to Shenzhen to evade a hefty mainland tax was broken up after the arrest of five men and the seizure of HK$8 million (US$1 million) worth of electronics.
Most of the haul, including mobile phones, smartwatches and computer hard disks, was found in a hidden compartment in the battery case of the mainland brand BYD electric car when the vehicle was intercepted by customs officers for inspection at the Shenzhen Bay control point on Tuesday.
The driver was arrested.
In a follow-up operation, another four men, including the suspected ringleader, were picked up during a raid on a flat in Yuen Long.
“It is the first time an electric vehicle was found to have been used in smuggling goods across the border,” Assistant Superintendent Alan Lau Yau-lun of Customs’ syndicate crimes investigation bureau said.
He said about a third of the battery case at the bottom of the vehicle had been converted into a secret compartment to hide the goods.
The Post understands that the syndicate had been in operation for less than a month.
Officers said the group used the Yuen Long flat as its storage facility before moving the goods to a cargo yard in the same district and loading them into the electric car.
Customs officers began investigating the syndicate about two weeks ago. After identifying the core members of the group and locating its storage centre and loading bay, customs officers intercepted the Shenzhen-bound electric car at the control centre at about noon on Tuesday and raided the flat and cargo yard three hours later.
A total of 1,576 mobile phones, 228 smartwatches and 45 hard disks were seized. The haul was worth about HK$8 million but could be sold for HK$9.4 million on the mainland after taking the tax into account.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the five Hongkongers, aged between 26 and 48, were being held for questioning. None of them had been charged.
In Hong Kong, importing and exporting unmanifested cargo carries a maximum penalty of a seven-year jail term and a HK$2 million fine.