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Customs' special operation seizes $10 million worth of suspected illicit cigarettes (with photos)

     Hong Kong Customs has mounted a three-week special operation targeting cross-boundary smuggling of illicit cigarettes and distribution of cigarettes in the territory.

     In the operation, two cross-boundary vehicles suspected to be conveying illicit cigarettes were seized. Three suspected illicit cigarette storage points were smashed and seven private cars suspected to be distributing illicit cigarettes were detained. About 3.6 million sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes were seized. The total market value was estimated at $10 million with a duty potential of about $6.9 million. Twelve men and three women aged between 20 and 56 were arrested. The investigation is ongoing.

     In the first nine months of this year, Customs detected 16 significant smuggling cases with seizure of 28 million sticks of illicit cigarettes. Each of the significant smuggling cases involved more than 500 000 sticks of illicit cigarettes. In the same period, a total of 8.8 million sticks of illicit cigarettes related to downtown distribution activities were seized.

     A Customs spokesman said at a press conference today (October 22), "The operation showed the effectiveness of our enforcement strategy, especially the escalated enforcement actions against smuggling activities at source. Customs will continue to carry out stringent enforcement action against all illicit cigarette 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.

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

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

Ends/Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:38


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