Smugglers swap speedboats for river vessels: Customs

The Customs and Excise Department on Friday said smuggling syndicates appear to have changed tactics after a recent crackdown by the authorities and are using river trade vessels instead of speedboats to sneak goods across the border.

Officers said they intercepted a vessel carrying 17 containers bound for Zhuhai in the early hours of last Friday after being tipped off.

They found hidden compartments at the bottom of two empty containers where the alleged smuggled goods were stored.

Detectives raided a container yard in San Tin on the same day in connection with the case, where they also found five modified containers – one already with goods hidden inside.

Cheng Tak-hei, from Customs’ syndicate crimes investigation bureau, said it appears that syndicates have stopped using fishing boats or speedboats to smuggle goods.

“After a series of crackdowns, smuggling syndicates changed their modus operandi recently and have started using river trade vessels. They use containers that are declared to be carrying cheap goods as a disguise, but smuggle high-value goods in bulk to the mainland,” he said.

Customs said the various goods seized in the recent operation included bird’s nest, abalone and cameras, with the haul worth around HK$63 million. Three people were arrested.