China

Hong Kong cracks down on cigarette smuggling ring

High and low rise buildings in Hong Kong Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cigarettes were distributed in Hong Kong's many public housing estates

Customs officials in Hong Kong have cracked down on a smuggling ring that delivered contraband cigarettes to its clients' homes.

Officers have arrested 119 people and seized 3m untaxed cigarettes, worth almost $1m (£575,000).

The group had turned to home deliveries after a clamp-down on stores selling illicit cigarettes.

It had been handing out fliers in Hong Kong's public housing estates.

Wan Hing-chuen, a divisional commander at the territory's Customs and Excise Department, said the operation had been run from a warehouse and distribution centres.

"It's very easy because in Hong Kong there are so many public housing estates, they just employ a few persons to deliver the leaflets," he said.

The cigarettes were being sold at less than half the typical retail price.

So far this year Hong Kong customs officers have seized 55 million cigarettes and broken up more than 200 distribution centres.

Under Hong Kong law, people found guilty of buying or selling untaxed cigarettes face a fine of up to HK$1m($130,000, £80,000) and up to two years in prison.

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