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Customs takes stringent action against illicit cigarette activities by telephone ordering (with photos)

     Hong Kong Customs conducted special operations against illicit cigarette activities involving telephone ordering in the past two months. As a result, 920,000 sticks of illicit cigarettes were seized. The total market value of the cigarettes was about $2.4 million with a duty potential of around $1.8 million. Sixty-eight men and seven women, aged between 15 and 85, were arrested.

     Acting on intelligence analysis and investigation, illicit cigarettes offenders were found selling illicit cigarettes by telephone ordering and distributing leaflets in public housing estates to targeted customers. Customs then took enforcement action and effected a total of 74 suspected cases via telephone orders in July and August. A total of 75 suspected persons, including 47 illicit cigarette buyers, were arrested. Five vehicles suspected to be used for delivering illicit cigarettes were also seized. The special operations are ongoing.

     A Customs spokesman said today (August 21) that telephone ordering of illicit cigarettes is the predominant means of transaction in the illicit cigarette market. Illicit cigarettes offenders attempt to employ a special operation mode to evade Customs' detection. Customs adopts strategies that target cross-boundary smuggling of illicit cigarettes and aim to smash illegal selling and distribution of illicit cigarettes by telephone ordering, thereby intercepting the supply chain from source to the retail level.

     In the first seven months of this year, Customs detected a total of 146 suspected illicit cigarette cases involving telephone ordering with seizure of 1.9 million sticks of cigarettes. The number of cases and the quantity of seizures recorded significant increases of 30 per cent and 90 per cent respectively when compared with the same period last year.

     Customs will continue to closely monitor the situation and conduct stringent enforcement action against illicit cigarette activities.

     Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities on Customs' hotline at 2545 6182.

Ends/Thursday, August 21, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:16


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