13 arrested in lobster smuggling case

October 15, 2021

Hong Kong Customs today said it cracked three lobster smuggling cases with its Mainland counterparts and arrested 13 people.


At a press briefing, Hong Kong Customs Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau Group Head (Special Investigation Group) Rita Li said: “Hong Kong Customs and Mainland law enforcement agencies mounted a joint anti-smuggling operation, code-named JL, targetting cross-boundary lobster smuggling activities from July to September.


“About 5,300kg of suspected smuggled lobsters from Australia with an estimated market value of about $4.2 million in total were seized.”


The joint operation involved Hong Kong Customs, the Mainland’s Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the General Administration of Customs, the Guangdong Coast Guard, the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Shenzhen Customs and the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Gongbei Customs.


The Mainland law enforcement agencies first detected a suspected sea smuggling case of lobsters in July. Officers intercepted two fishing vessels in Mainland waters and seized on board about 2,200kg of Australian lobsters with an estimated market value of about $1.7 million. Seven people were arrested and the vessels were also confiscated.


In August and September, Hong Kong Customs detected two suspected sea smuggling cases of lobsters in Hong Kong waters and seized about 3,100kg of Australian lobsters with an estimated market value of about $2.5 million. Six people were arrested and a fishing vessel was impounded.


Separately, after an in-depth investigation, Hong Kong Customs found that some local lobster importers were likely to have intentionally made inaccurate or incomplete declarations or failed to lodge declarations regarding the import volume of Australian lobsters.


It then took enforcement action on October 12 and raided various importers suspected of smuggling Australian lobsters across the city. Seven people were arrested.


“The total weight of the undeclared Australian lobsters involved reached 228 tonnes with an estimated market value of about $180 million,” Ms Li added.


As it consistently combats cross-boundary smuggling activities, Hong Kong Customs said it will continue collaborating with Mainland law enforcement agencies through intelligence exchanges and special joint operations with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement in the anti-smuggling realm.

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