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Customs smashes three smuggling syndicates for smuggling powdered formula for infants and children under 36 months (with photos)

     Hong Kong Customs mounted a two-day (April 5 and 6) anti-smuggling operation in the Northern District, New Territories against the smuggling of powdered formula for infants and children under 36 months (powdered formula).  

     During the operation, three smuggling syndicates which attempted to export unlicensed powdered formula by "ant-moving-home" approach were smashed in Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Points for a total of eight men and two women, aged between 26 and 58, were arrested.  A total of 110 tins of powdered formula weighing 99 kilograms and worth about $27,500 were seized.

     Since the control on the export of powdered formula came into operation on March 1, the supply of goods in the retail level has resumed normal and the activities of parallel goods couriers were restrained. The passenger activities had also reverted to normal order, and the tidiness of the area was improved.  However, Customs noticed that the smuggling syndicates began to change their strategies by recruiting a large number of parallel goods couriers to make multiple trips by carrying two tins of powdered formula on each departure to the Mainland with a view of evading Customs inspection.

     Focusing on  this mode of organised smuggling activities, Customs officers, through close monitoring and detailed planning, successfully arrested several masterminds who controlled the supply chain and seized powdered formula from the mobile store. This morning (April 6), Customs officers found smuggling syndicate using a light goods vehicle as a mobile storage of powdered formula and parked the vehicle at the Park and Ride Carpark near Sheung Shui MTR. The mastermind took out tins of  powdered formula from the light goods vehicle and distributed the powdered formula to smugglers waiting outside the railway station. The smugglers travelled to the Mainland several times each  day, bringing two tins or more powdered formula with them. In the operation, Customs officers seized a total of 50 tins of powdered formula, weighing 45 kilograms and  worth $12,500, from the vehicle.  

     Meanwhile, Customs officers also found that a smuggling syndicate using coin-style storage lockers inside some shopping malls in the Northern District as temporary storage of powdered formula today. The mastermind frequently took out tins of powdered formula from the lockers for distribution to  other smugglers  waiting inside the railway station.

     During the operation, Customs Officers arrested the smugglers at the border control points and the mastermind who distributed the powdered formula to the smugglers. A total of 48 tins of powdered formula were found inside the storage lockers, weighing 43.2 kilograms and worth $12,000.

     Customs officers yesterday (April 5) found smuggling mastermind distributed powdered formula to smugglers at the public transport interchange in the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point. The smugglers travelled to the Mainland several times each day bringing with them tins of powdered formula each time, exceeding the limit permitted by law.

     In the above cases, the smugglers will be charged for attempting to export unlicensed powdered formula, while the masterminds will be charged with assisting for the smuggling offence.

     The Import and Export (General)(Amendment) Regulation 2013 prohibits the unlicensed export of powdered formula, including milk powder and soya milk powder, for infants and children under 36 months. To allow a reasonable quantity for personal use, the prohibition does not apply to powdered formula not exceeding 1.8 kilograms in total net weight that is exported in the accompanied personal baggage of a person leaving Hong Kong. However, the person must be aged 16 or above and must not have left Hong Kong in the last 24 hours. Offenders may face a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years upon conviction.

     Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of assisting with the carrying/keeping of an article, the export of which is prohibited other than in accordance with a licence is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

     The Customs will take continuous action against smuggling activities. Members of the public are urged to report any suspected smuggling activities to the Customs through Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Saturday, April 6, 2013
Issued at HKT 23:58


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