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Crime

Hong Kong customs officials discover HK$30 million worth of high-end goods being smuggled to mainland at Lok Ma Chau border crossing

  • Birds nests, a delicacy used in Chinese soups, and cameras were among the products seized
  • Customs officers believe the driver of the truck apprehended may be part of a cross-border smuggling syndicate
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2018, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2018, 10:10pm

Customs officers found more than HK$30 million (US$3.83 million) worth of high-end products hidden in a Shenzhen-bound truck at a Hong Kong immigration control point, Hong Kong Customs said on Thursday. It was the biggest seizure of cross-border land contraband in the past three years.

The smuggled goods, hidden in more than 100 boxes, included 400kg of bird’s nests worth HK$14.4 million and cameras and lenses worth a total of HK$10 million, according to the Customs and Excise Department. Other items in the haul included computer hard drives, tablets and mobile phones.

The driver of the truck, a 50-year-old local man, was arrested in connection with the case. Officers believe he may be a member of a cross-border smuggling syndicate.

The consignment was detected at Lok Ma Chau control point soon after 7am on Wednesday when customs officers intercepted a mainland-bound truck for inspection based on risk assessment.

According to the department, the vehicle was declared to be carrying more than 300 boxes of electric wires.

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“An X-ray examination returned various suspicious images rather than just images of electric wires,” divisional commander Alvina Ho Sin-ting of Customs’ Land Boundary Command said.

During the inspection, officers seized more than 100 cartons of smuggled goods mingled with 300 boxes of electric wires in the vehicle, she said.

According to the department, the haul had an estimated market value of more than HK$30 million. Customs officers are still trying to determine the final destination of the consignment.

A law enforcement source said the syndicate was trying to smuggle the goods into mainland China to evade hefty mainland duty of more than HK$5 million.

“Given it was such a large quantity of goods, it is possible the syndicate was trying to stock up on such high-value products ahead of the festive season,” he said.

Divisional commander Wong Lai-yung of Customs’ Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau said the haul was the biggest seizure of this kind in the past three years.

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He said the investigation was continuing and he did not rule out possibility further arrests.

In Hong Kong, importing or exporting unmanifested cargo carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and a HK$2 million fine under the Import and Export Ordinance.

Members of the public can report any suspected smuggling activities to the Customs 24-hour hotline on 2545 6182