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Customs swoops on illicit cigarette smuggling syndicate in Sha Tin (with photo)

     Hong Kong Customs today (September 20) swooped on an illicit cigarette smuggling syndicate in Sha Tin.  On board a lorry, a total of 155 boxes containing 1.9 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarette were found.  The total value is about $4.7 million with a duty potential of $3.2 million.  In the operation, three local men (aged 23 to 35) were arrested and the lorry was seized.

     At about 1.50pm today, while conducting an anti-illicit cigarette operation in Sha Tin, Customs officers of Anti-Illicit-Cigarette Investigation Division spotted a suspicious lorry inside a car park of Ngau Pei Sha Street.  Three men were seen loading some carton boxes onto a lorry.  Customs officers then took action and found 155 boxes of illicit cigarette.  Three men were arrested immediately.

     Investigation revealed that illicit cigarette smuggling syndicates were trying to smuggle large number of illicit cigarettes into Hong Kong before the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holidays. These cigarettes were sorted and packed according to local order for quick delivery to the black market.  A large quantity of toys was used as camouflage to prevent Customs officers from detection.

     Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession, selling and buying illicit cigarettes commits an offence.  The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for two years and a fine of $1 million.

     Customs will continue to take stringent enforcement against cigarette smuggling activities to protect government revenue.

     Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, September 20, 2012
Issued at HKT 23:47


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