HK$65 million in illicit goods seized by Hong Kong customs over festive season in anti-smuggling operation
- 18-day operation was carried out at various checkpoints across city, and enforcement action will continue over coming Lunar New Year
About HK$65 million (US$8.3 million) worth of illicit goods – ranging from cocaine to cigarettes – were confiscated with 147 people arrested as Hong Kong customs stepped up enforcement action at various control points during the festive season.
The 18-day operation which ended on Wednesday targeted smuggling and other illegal activities at passenger and cargo channels such as the airport, ferry terminals and rail stations during the Christmas and New Year holidays, the Customs and Excise Department said on Friday.
Customs officers seized 62kg of illegal drugs with an estimated street value of HK$34 million, and detained 23 suspected traffickers in 62 cases.
“Most of the seizures were cocaine, cannabis and [chemical compound] gamma-Butyrolactone, seized mainly from inbound air parcels and air passengers,” a spokesman for the department said in a statement. Gamma-Butyrolactone is often used as a date rape drug.
Authorities also thwarted 26 smuggling cases of endangered items and caught 15 people. The hauls included fragrant agarwood, pangolin scales and controlled cactuses with an estimated street value of more than HK$2 million.
Counterfeit products worth about HK$3.6 million were also uncovered. The goods included fake watches, electronic products, clothing, shoes and socks.
According to the department, officers seized more than 1 million dutiable cigarettes with an estimated street value of nearly HK$3 million, and arrested seven in relation to such cases.
Meanwhile, 814 inbound passengers were found to have failed to declare they were carrying tobacco and liquor exceeding exempted quantities. Thirty people were prosecuted and 784 others were fined.
“With the imminent arrival of the Lunar New Year, the department will continue to step up enforcement action against smuggling activities,” the spokesman said.
He stressed that smuggling was a serious offence. In Hong Kong, trafficking in a dangerous drug carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.