Hong Kong customs officers seize HK$2.6 million worth of contraband hookah tobacco in shipment from Jordan

  • The untaxed product was in a container declared to contain molasses coming from the Middle Eastern country
  • Police are unsure if the tobacco was intended for local consumption or re-export
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2018, 3:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2018, 3:56pm

About 6.6 tonnes of suspected untaxed hookah tobacco was found hidden in a shipping container arriving from Jordan, Hong Kong Customs said on Wednesday.

The haul had an estimated street value of HK$2.6 million (US$331,663) and a duty potential of about HK$15 million, according to the Customs and Excise Department.

“Through risk assessment, customs officers inspected a container arriving in Hong Kong from Jordan,” the department said in a press statement.

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On Monday, more than 1,000 cartons carrying the suspected contraband were found in the container when it was opened for inspection at the Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound in Kwai Chung.

A law enforcement source said initial information showed the container was declared to be carrying molasses.

He said officers were investigating whether it was for local consumption. “Because of it being such a large quantity, we don’t rule out the possibility that it was intended for re-export,” he said.

So far, no one has been arrested in connection with the seizure. Officers from the Customs’ Revenue and General Investigation Bureau were handling the case.

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In Hong Kong, handling, possessing, selling or buying untaxed tobacco carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a HK$1 million fine.

Members of the public can report any suspected illicit tobacco activities to a 24-hour hotline on 2545 6182.