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Customs seizes illicit cigarettes and tobacco from transshipment container (with photos)

     Hong Kong Customs yesterday (April 29) smashed a transshipment smuggling case at Kwai Chung Customshouse Cargo Examination Compound, resulting in the seizure of about 9.3 million sticks of illicit cigarettes and 90 kilogrammes of illicit tobacco. The total value of the seizure was about $24 million, with a duty potential of about $16 million.

     Customs intelligence analysis has revealed that some smuggling syndicates deliberately make use of the transnational sea network to smuggle illicit cigarettes and tobacco by means of the "merry-go-round" mode. The contraband is transshipped through different ports before being smuggled to the final destination in order to evade Customs detection.

     Through exchange of intelligence with the related overseas law enforcement agencies and in-depth investigation, Customs identified and selected a 40-foot transshipment container from Malaysia which was declared as containing "toilet paper", for examination.

     Upon inspection, a total of 9.3 million sticks of illicit cigarettes and 90 kilogrammes of illicit tobacco were found. According to the packing of the seized cigarettes and tobacco, it is believed they were destined for Australia. The unmanifested cigarettes and tobacco were seized and the responsible local shipping agent was invited for assistance in the investigation. Customs will also conduct a follow-up investigation with the related overseas law enforcement agencies.

     The Divisional Commander (Anti-Illicit-Cigarette Investigation) of the Revenue and General Investigation Bureau, Mr Wan Hing-chuen, said today (April 30) at a press conference, "Hong Kong Customs will spare no effort in closely monitoring illicit cigarette and tobacco smuggling activities using the transnational sea network and exchange intelligence with overseas law enforcement agencies to trace and track smuggling activities."

     Under the Import and Export Ordinance, smuggling is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Members of the public are urged to report suspected illicit cigarette activities by calling the Customs 24-hour hotline on 2545 6182.

Ends/Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:16


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