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Hong Kong customs seize US$16.7 million of smuggled goods including drugs, ivory, shark fins, cigarettes and frozen meat in Lunar New Year raids

Hong Kong customs seized HK$130 million (US$16.7 million) of items in an almost month-long effort to tackle cross-boundary smuggling ahead of and during the Lunar New Year.

During the 27-day operation, which started on January 14 and concluded on February 9, customs arrested 1,203 people in connection with about 1,300 smuggling cases.

Goods from suspected endangered species, including pangolin scales, ivory tusks and products, red sandalwood logs, orchids and controlled shark fins, with an estimated value of about HK$73 million (US$9.4 million), accounted for 146 cases.

Raids uncovered 61 drug smuggling cases, resulting in the arrest of 28 people and the seizure of about 130kg (287 pounds) of suspected illegal drugs with an estimated market value of HK$22 million (US$2.8 million).

Most of the seizures involved methamphetamine, or "Ice", cannabis, cocaine and gamma-butyrolactone, often used as a date rape drug. The drugs were found mainly in parcels sent by air and on airline passengers.

Officers also seized copyright infringing products worth about HK$540,000 (US$69,233).

Other smuggled goods seized included frozen meat and mobile phone accessories valued at about HK$15 million (US$1.9 million).

In addition, about 5.3 million suspected illicit cigarettes and 98 litres of dutiable liquor with an estimated market value of about HK$15.5 million (US$2 million) were intercepted at various control points. These cases led to the arrests of 967 people.

Officers also seized 220kg (573 pounds) of game, meat and poultry and about 600 eggs that were imported into Hong Kong without a health certificate.

These cases were handed over to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for action.

"Hong Kong customs have all along adopted a zero-tolerance approach against cross-boundary smuggling activities," a spokesman said.

"Apart from strengthening deployment and making stringent enforcement actions during the festive period, customs officers will be equally vigilant in combating smuggling activities through risk assessment and intelligence analysis in their routine operation," he said.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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