Hong Kong police arrested the suspected head of a cross-border smugglers union on Wednesday and seized five powerful speedboats hidden nearby in a remote location on Lantau Island.
Chief Inspector Yu Pok-hon, of the New Southern Territories anti-triad team, said intelligence services led officers to the coastal site near Tai Ho Wan, which was used as a shelter. by the union to cover up its boats amid an ongoing crackdown on gangs. behind cross-border smuggling activities.
Officers descended on the site and seized the ships shortly before noon on Wednesday. Yu said the boats were between nine and 12 meters long, and each was fitted with two outboard motors, allowing them to reach speeds of 80 km / h.
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“The transport has an estimated market value of around HK $ 4 million [US$514,000],” he said.
Hong Kong Customs seize HK $ 1.2 billion worth of goods in biggest transport ever
At the same time, police arrested the 58-year-old suspected ringleader in nearby Pak Mong. The man was suspected of owning two of the boats himself and was arrested on suspicion of building ships for the purpose of smuggling – an offense punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of HK $ 2 million.
“The investigation suggests that the suspect has a triad background and is the alleged mastermind of a smuggling syndicate active on Lantau Island,” the chief inspector said.
Yu said he believed the owners of the other boats were also union members, adding that the investigation was continuing and more arrests were possible.
The force stepped up its fight against maritime smuggling after two men suspected of racketeering crashed their boat into a police boat in Chinese waters during a high-speed chase across the border on September 25, killing a policeman.
Lam Yuen-yee, who was posthumously promoted last week from chief inspector to chief inspector, was thrown overboard along with three other officers by the force of the collision. While his colleagues were rescued immediately, Lam went missing for two days and his body was later found in Hong Kong waters off Lantau.
On October 4, local authorities raided a site in Tung Chung Bay in Lantau, confiscating 39 speedboats and eight new outboard motors still in their boxes. The ships and engines were valued at HK $ 12 million, but no arrests were made.
Yu said the police will continue to exchange information and cooperate with other departments to combat smuggling activities.
Hong Kong authorities seize 39 speedboats allegedly used for smuggling
Hong Kong Customs have also stepped up efforts against such operations, seizing HK $ 1.2 billion (US $ 154.3 million) in contraband in mid-October from two dozen shipping containers at destination. of mainland China – the largest transport in its 112-year history.
High-value goods – ranging from dried seafood and products made from endangered species to luxury handbags and electronic gadgets – have been estimated to be more valuable than the HK $ 1.08 billion from agents of the contraband customs seized in 211 maritime contraband cases in 2019 and 2020.
In the first 10 months of this year, Customs seized HK $ 2.07 billion worth of goods in 81 cases.
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