Hong Kong’s Largest Sea Smuggling Case Busted With $300 Million Worth Of Items, Including Shark Fins, Seized

Dried shark fins were among the many items hidden in mislabeled containers that Hong Kong Customs uncovered late last month. They discovered a vessel that was being used to smuggle goods to the Mainland at the Kwai Chung Container Terminals.

The massive haul of confiscated items, which had a total estimated market value of $300 million, marked the largest sea smuggling case in terms of the seizure value to be intercepted by the department this year.

Upon inspection on October 26th, customs officers found inside the 10 containers many wooden boxes, which were used to conceal a large batch of suspected smuggled goods. Among them, ginseng and dried seafood was the largest, including dried fish maws, dried sea cucumbers, dried shark fins, dried scallops, and suspected dried Gekko gecko, totaling approximately 50 tons.

As per a statement by Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department, the shipment also specifically included “about 30,000 bottles of table wines, about 30 tons of solid waste, electronic goods, cosmetics, beauty needles, and endangered species.”

After a follow-up investigation, customs officers raided a warehouse in Yuen Long on October 28th and arrested two people suspected to be connected with the case, a 48-year-old man who was the person-in-charge and a 53-year-old female staff member of a logistics company. The 10 containers were also confiscated.

An investigation is ongoing. The two people arrested have been released on bail pending further investigation and the likelihood of further arrests is not ruled out.

Being a government department specifically responsible for tackling smuggling, Customs has all along been combating various smuggling activities at the forefront. Customs will keep up its enforcement action and continue to fiercely combat sea smuggling activities through proactive risk management and intelligence-based enforcement strategies, along with mounting targeted anti-smuggling operations at suitable times to land a solid blow against relevant activities.

Smuggling is a serious offence. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. Moreover, any person who imports or exports pharmaceutical products and medicines without a valid licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years.

Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting an endangered species without a license is liable to a maximum fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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