Customs seize 24 million smuggled cigarettes worth about HK$66 million

Hong Kong Customs on Monday detected a suspected illicit cigarette smuggling case in Yau Ma Tei, seizing a barge carrying 24 million smuggled cigarettes and arrested two men.

Offices intercepted a barge in the waters near Yau Ma Tei Anchorage in the morning that day.

Upon inspection, officers noticed the two crew members were suspicious as they failed to present a list of the goods on board the barge when being inquired about.

Officers then searched the barge and seized a batch of suspected smuggled cigarettes inside two 40-foot containers and a 20-foot container.

The two men, aged 45 and 30, were arrested as suspected of smuggling.

"With the Chinese New Year holidays approaching, illicit cigarette syndicates took the opportunity to smuggle a large number of illicit cigarettes in order to ensure a stable supply for local or overseas illicit cigarette markets," said Senior Inspector Choi Yin-ming of Customs’ Marine Enforcement Division.

The Customs has busted four smuggling cases involving using barges to smuggle illicit cigarettes since the second part of last year so far and arrested 14 people, Choi said it is estimated that all the seized smuggled items are valued at about HK$340 million.