Asia - Pacific

Hong Kong announces ‘biggest ever bust of speedboat smuggling operation'

Luxury bags, parts from endangered animals worth over $1.5 million seized in operation last week, say authorities

Riyaz Ul Khaliq   | 10.06.2021
Hong Kong announces ‘biggest ever bust of speedboat smuggling operation'


Illegal goods worth over $1.5 million were recovered in Hong Kong’s “biggest ever bust of a speedboat smuggling operation,” local media reported on Thursday.

Items including luxury bags and parts from endangered animals were seized while they were being loaded onto a boat last Wednesday, according to a report by public broadcaster RTHK News.

Customs officials of China’s semi-autonomous region said the goods were worth some $1.54 million.

“The syndicate carried out very sophisticated countersurveillance activity on our officers,” said Mark Woo, the head of the department’s Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau.

“They used several speedboats to patrol in the western waters, and they also sent some syndicate members to check the area of the surrounding of the loading point in Lau Fau Shan.”

The group also used drones to monitor authorities’ movements, he added.

No arrests were made in the operation as the smugglers managed to flee when officers raided the location.

However, authorities later apprehended four in raids at three warehouses and a residential unit.

The goods were about to be ferried to mainland China, according to Chan Tsz-tat, assistant commissioner of the Customs department.

He said pandemic restrictions have forced smugglers to use sea routes “because transport by road is now trickier.”

“Because of COVID-19, passenger flow between Hong Kong and the mainland is effectively halted,” he added.

“In the past, lots of these luxury goods were delivered from Hong Kong to mainland China by tourists or passengers, but they cannot do it under the pandemic. Smuggling rings have no other means but to resort to smuggling by sea.”

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