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Crime in Hong Kong

Hong Kong customs seize 24 tonnes of wood from Honduras in HK$2.4 million smuggling case

Officers looking into where consignment of Honduras rosewood hidden in shipping container was headed

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 April, 2018, 2:10pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 April, 2018, 4:17pm

Hong Kong customs officers have seized nearly 24 tonnes of high-value wood from endangered trees – estimated to be worth about HK$2.4 million (US$305,800) – hidden in a shipping container that arrived in the city from Central America.

This incident, involving suspected Honduras rosewood, is the third wood-smuggling case reported in the city this year. 

Logs weighing a total of 23,800kg were discovered on Thursday when customs officers opened the container for inspection at the Kwai Chung Customhouse cargo examination compound. 

“Customs officers inspected a container arriving in Hong Kong from Honduras. Upon inspection, customs officers found the suspected Honduras rosewood in the container,” the Customs and Excise Department said in a statement issued on Friday.

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Officers are looking into where the consignment was headed. No one has been arrested.

The Post understands the wood was probably intended for use in the manufacture of high-end furniture.

The case was handed to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for follow-up investigation.

The incident follows the February 5 seizure of 26.16 tonnes of Thailand rosewood hidden in two shipping containers from Thailand. The haul had an estimated market value of HK$3.6 million.

On January 16, a consignment of 29.23 tonnes of Honduras rosewood worth HK$2.9 million was found in a container from Guatemala. A 35-year-old woman was arrested in connection with the case.

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In Hong Kong, importing or exporting an endangered species without a licence carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a HK$5 million fine under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance. 

Anyone importing or exporting unmanifested cargo faces seven years in prison and a HK$2 million fine.

Members of the public may report any suspected smuggling activities to the customs 24-hour hotline at 2545 6182.