Hong Kong Customs on October 26 detected a suspected case of using an ocean-going vessel to smuggle goods to the Mainland at the Kwai Chung Container Terminals. A large batch of suspected smuggled goods, including expensive food ingredients, table wines, electronic goods, solid waste and scheduled endangered species, with a total estimated market value of about $300 million was seized. This is the largest sea smuggling case detected by Customs this year in terms of the seizure value.
Through risk assessment, Customs discovered that criminals may use ocean-going vessels to smuggle goods to the Mainland and then formulated strategic plans. Ten containers, declared as carrying acrylic boards, prepared to be shipped to Tianjin via an ocean-going vessel were speedily identified at the Kwai Chung Container Terminals.
Upon inspection, Customs officers found inside the 10 containers a lot of wooden boxes, which were used to conceal a large batch of suspected smuggled goods. Among them, the quantity of ginseng and dried seafood was the largest, including dried fish maws, dried sea cucumbers, dried shark fins, dried scallops and suspected dried Gekko gecko, totalling about 50 tonnes. Other goods included about 30 000 bottles of table wines, about 30 tonnes of solid waste, electronic goods, cosmetics, beauty needles and scheduled endangered species.
After a follow-up investigation, Customs officers raided a warehouse in Yuen Long on October 28 and arrested two persons suspected to be connected with the case. They comprised a 48-year-old male person-in-charge and a 53-year-old female staff member of a logistics company. The 10 containers involved were also detained.
An investigation is ongoing. The two arrested persons have been released on bail pending further investigation and the likelihood of further arrests is not ruled out.
Being a government department specifically responsible for tackling smuggling, Customs has all along been combating various smuggling activities proactively at the forefront. Customs will keep up its enforcement action and continue to fiercely combat sea smuggling activities through proactive risk management and intelligence-based enforcement strategies, along with mounting targeted anti-smuggling operations at suitable times to land a solid blow against relevant activities.
Smuggling is a serious offence. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Moreover, any person who imports or exports pharmaceutical products and medicines without a valid licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years.
Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting an endangered species without a licence is liable to a maximum fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years.
Members of the public may report any suspected smuggling activities to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (email@example.com).
Ends/Monday, November 7, 2022
Issued at HKT 17:58