Smugglers flee as customs finds $20m haul

Local | Charlotte Luo 18 Oct 2019

Customs has seized HK$20 million worth of smuggled electronic products, the largest sea smuggling case this year.

Customs revealed yesterday that officers started investigating a cross-boundary smuggling syndicate at Ma Wan Chung in Tung Chung about two weeks ago after receiving intelligence.

Acting commander Horace Pao Man-hon said officers conducted an anti-smuggling operation in North Lantau waters on Tuesday night when they saw six men using a sliding board to move cartons of goods from a seven-seater on to a speedboat at Ma Wan Chung Pier at 8.30pm.

When officers moved in, the smugglers jumped on to the speedboat and headed at high speed in the direction of Shekou in Shenzhen, where the electronic products are taxed by up to 45 percent of value.

Pao said his officers chased the boat, but failed to intercept them due strong winds. No one was arrested.

"There are many construction works around the airport, creating many obstacles in the chase," he said.

They left 34 boxes of suspected smuggled electronic products in the seven-seater.

The seized electronic goods included 1.45 million integrated circuit boards, 10,000 hard disks and 380,000 other electronic parts worth a total of HK$20 million. The private car was also held.

Jonathan Leung Yiu-man, of the customs' marine enforcement group, said the syndicate used sampans to patrol the sea before each operation.

There have been 47 cases of smuggling at sea so far this year, with the total value of seized goods amounting to HK$78 million. Last year, there were 63 sea-smuggling cases with a market value totaling HK$151 million.

"Smuggling is a serious offense," customs said. "Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of HK$2 million and imprisonment for seven years."

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