HONG KONG: Hong Kong Customs mounted an operation to combat illicit cigarettes on January 3 and 4. Three cases were detected at Man Kam To Control Point, Kwai Chung and Tai Po. A total of about 3.7 million suspected illicit cigarettes with an estimated market value of about $10 million and a duty potential of about $7.1 million were seized. On January 3, Customs officers intercepted a private car suspected of distributing illicit cigarettes in Tai Po.
About 58 000 suspected illicit cigarettes were found in the vehicle. A 37-year-old male driver was arrested. On January 4, Customs officers intercepted an incoming lorry declared as containing assorted cargoes at Man Kam To Control Point.
Upon inspection, about 2.9 million suspected illicit cigarettes were found in 173 carton boxes. A 41-year-old male driver was arrested. Later on the same day, Customs officers intercepted a lorry in Kwai Chung and found about 800 000 suspected illicit cigarettes in 59 carton boxes. A 33-year old man was arrested. Three vehicles involved in the cases were seized.
Smuggling is a serious offence. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession of, selling or buying illicit cigarettes commits an offence.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.