Seven mainland Chinese men were arrested on suspicion of smuggling on Monday after two boats were caught carrying a total of 16 tonnes of frozen meat destined for Guangdong province, law enforcers have said. One officer said the produce was intended to satisfy increased demand ahead of the Lunar New Year later this month. The haul of chicken legs, chicken wings and pork knuckles was estimated to be worth about HK$700,000, but the cargo could be sold for HK$1.4 million on the mainland, according to one law-enforcement source. They were the second and third cross-border smuggling cases detected by Hong Kong authorities in about 24 hours. On Sunday night, customs officers intercepted a mainland fishing boat, seizing four tonnes of frozen pork knuckles worth HK$400,000 and arresting two mainland men. All three vessels were intercepted off Sha Chau, near the maritime boundary between the city and the mainland. Customs officers were investigating whether the same syndicate was behind the three operations. “The cargoes were to meet high demand in mainland China during Lunar New Year,” the source said. “The smuggling operations were designed to evade hefty mainland tariffs and import restrictions such as stringent health monitoring measures.” In Monday’s first case, a cargo vessel was intercepted west of Sha Chau in a joint operation by police and customs officers at about 5pm. According to police, 11.2 tonnes of frozen meat, with a retail value of HK$500,000, was found on board. Two mainland men, aged 34 and 27, were arrested. The HK$18 million boats helping Hong Kong take on the smugglers About four hours later, a patrol launch from the Customs and Excise Department intercepted a fishing boat in the same area. On board the vessel, customs officers seized five tonnes of frozen meat worth HK$200,000 and arrested five mainland men for exporting unmanifested goods – an offence carrying a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and a HK$2 million fine. The Post was told that the goods in the three cases came from Ukraine, Ireland, India and the United States. The three cases came about two months after customs officers busted a cross-border syndicate smuggling frozen meat from the city to the mainland, seizing 540 tonnes of produce worth HK$50 million, the largest bust of its kind in the city in a decade.