High-speed chase ends in ciggie haul

Police have busted the largest contraband cigarette case involving heat-not-burn cigarette sticks in four years, seizing 2.5 million of them in an overloaded box truck along with 1.1 million typical cigarette sticks. The seizure of the HK$10 million consignment came after the truck drove...

Erin Chan

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Police have busted the largest contraband cigarette case involving heat-not-burn cigarette sticks in four years, seizing 2.5 million of them in an overloaded box truck along with 1.1 million typical cigarette sticks.

The seizure of the HK$10 million consignment came after the truck drove at 90 kilometers per hour in a nine-kilometer chase yesterday that ended with the truck's driver being arrested.

The 45-year-old driver, Chu, was held for dangerous driving, overloading a goods vehicle, failing to comply with a requirement made by police and possessing illicit cigarettes. He was being detained for questioning as of last night.

Police said a box truck was heading along the Lok Ma Chau section of Fan Ling Highway toward Yuen Long at around 12.30am yesterday when officers from the New Territories North traffic unit on patrol noticed the truck was driving slowly and its rear was sitting lower, leading them to suspect the truck was overloaded.

The officers signaled for the truck to stop, but the driver accelerated instead.

The driver was said to have zigzagged and jumped two red traffic lights.

On reaching a petrol station near Mo Fan Heung, the driver and his passenger jumped out and fled on foot.

The driver tried to jump over a barbed wire fence, but was pinned down by officers, though his passenger managed to get away.

Officers found cardboard boxes containing the contraband cigarettes in the truck.

"The truck has a permitted gross weight of 5.5 tonnes, but was overloaded by 3.3 tonnes," New Territories North traffic unit's enforcement and control chief inspector Chui Wing-luen said.

Customs' revenue investigation division senior investigator Chan Po-tin said the cigarettes seized were dutiable and came with a taxable value of HK$6.9 million.

Dealing with, possessing, selling or buying illicit cigarettes is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail and a HK$1 million fine under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance.