Twenty-three tonnes (25 tons) of frozen meat worth HK$2.8 million (US$358,403) was seized and two Hong Kong men were arrested after police and customs officers intercepted a cargo vessel in a joint operation against cross-border smuggling. But a speedboat with four outboard engines, which came from mainland China to pick up the cargo off Cheung Chau Island, managed to flee the city’s waters in a high-speed chase with two police boats, a source familiar with the case said on Wednesday. They added that two men escaped onboard the vessel. Officers placed the cargo ship under surveillance when it left a Cha Kwo Ling pier on Tuesday evening, sailing towards Cheung Chau Island via the Victoria Harbour. Soon after, the vessel stopped south of the island at about 9pm, where the speedboat berthed beside it. As bags of goods were being unloaded from the ship onto the speedboat, officers moved in to intercept the two vessels. The speedboat then raced off. Police deployed two high-speed pursuit boats to give chase, but the speedboat managed to leave the city’s waters. Officers intercepted the cargo ship at the scene. They seized 23 tonnes of frozen meat, including beef, offal and pork knuckles, from the vessel. The haul has an estimated street value of HK$2.8 million in the city. Two men, aged 40 and 61, were arrested on the ship. They were detained on suspicion of aiding and abetting the export of unmanifested cargo. The pair were later released pending further investigation. Dried abalone worth HK$2 million confiscated from truck leaving Hong Kong In Hong Kong, the maximum punishment under the Import and Export Ordinance for smuggling unmanifested cargo is seven years in jail and a HK$2 million fine. According to the force, the seized meat was not being refrigerated on the vessel, raising concern over its condition. Customs officers are following the case. The source said the smuggling operation was designed to evade mainland tariffs and import restrictions. Customs officers last year confiscated HK$1.2 billion worth of contraband in 93 operations combating sea smuggling as of December 18. During the same period of 2021, they seized around HK$2.2 billion in illicit goods in 96 cases.