$120m sea smuggling bust made

June 10, 2021

Customs today said it detected the largest speedboat smuggling case on record and seized smuggled goods worth about $120 million during an operation earlier this month.


At a press conference this morning, Customs Assistant Commissioner (Intelligence & Investigation) Chan Tsz-tat said more than 66,000 pieces of high-value goods, 2.3 tonnes of expensive food ingredients and 186kg of endangered species were seized in the operation conducted from June 2 to 7.


This is the largest speedboat smuggling case detected by Customs on record in terms of seizure value, he added.


In the small hours of June 2, officers detected a speedboat smuggling case in Lau Fau Shan. The smugglers discarded their goods and escaped via a speedboat.


Customs followed up on the case and raided three warehouses and a residential flat in the New Territories. Four men aged between 35 to 62 were arrested and suspected smuggled goods were also seized from a warehouse. Investigations are ongoing.


Customs Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau Head Mark Woo explained the challenges officers faced when combatting smuggling activities.


Mr Woo said: “The syndicate carried out very sophisticated counter-surveillance activities on our officers.


“They employed several speedboats to patrol in the western waters and they also sent some syndicate members to check the area surrounding the loading point in Lau Fau Shan. Finally, they even used drones to assist in their counter-surveillance activities.


“So we needed to adjust our enforcement strategies constantly in order to circumvent their activities.”


Mr Chan cited the pandemic as one of the reasons behind increasing smuggling activities across the boundary.


“We observed that in the first half of this year, there were increasing smuggling activities between Hong Kong and the Mainland. I think one of the reasons is very obvious: because of COVID-19, the passenger flow between Hong Kong and the Mainland is seriously halted.


“In the past, a lot of these luxury goods were delivered from Hong Kong to the Mainland by tourists or passengers. But now, they cannot do it under the pandemic, so smuggling rings have no other means but to resort to smuggling by sea mode.


“That is one of the reasons why we see there are more sea smuggling activities this year.”


Hong Kong and the Mainland have mounted a joint anti-smuggling operation codenamed Xun Lei since March.

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