Crackdown on Hong Kong goods smugglers following weekend protest

By Guo Kai Source:Global Times Published: 2012-9-21 1:15:04

Some 200, mainly small-time smugglers were caught Wednesday in a joint crackdown by officials in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, a day after Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief secretary of the Hong Kong Administration, announced measures aiming to contain cross-border smuggling.

"A 15-day joint operation targeting smugglers started on Wednesday," an anti-smuggling official surnamed Tang from the Shenzhen Customs District told the Global Times, adding that the operation is just one part of a two-month campaign that began on September 7.

The smugglers will be "punished according to Chinese laws," Tang said.

Several dozen smugglers, from both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, were caught by Shenzhen customs officials at the border where tens of thousands of people cross every day. The smuggled goods intercepted were mainly commodities including beverages, diapers, shampoo and even pens, the Ta Kung Pao reported.

Police officers in Hong Kong arrested 130 smugglers in a raid on a building called the Advanced Technology Center in Sheung Shui Wednesday. They were in the process of repackaging wine, milk formula and diapers to make them easier to carry undetected across the border.

All of them are mainland residents and some 50 suspects held multiple-entry travel documents, allowing them to freely pass through customs checks, the report said.

Since September 7, customs officials on both sides have handled 236 smuggling cases, taxed 770 batches of goods and sent back 2,283 batches, said Shenzhen customs.

Electronic products and commodities in Hong Kong are generally cheaper due to low customs duties.

Since the mainland started issuing multiple-entry travel documents to individual mainland tourists to Hong Kong, smuggling has increased sharply, Shenzhen customs said.

Last weekend several hundred Hong Kong residents gathered around the Sheung Shui train station where many smugglers can be seen repacking items before illegally passing customs.

A demonstrator raised a sign reading "Chinese go back to China," which was fiercely criticized by many local residents for attempting to stir conflict between the mainland and Hong Kong, said the Hong Kong-based Sky Post.

Starting this year, the General Administration of Customs launched several campaigns across the country aimed at preventing smuggling.

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