Nighttime chase in city’s waters fails to end in arrest of five smugglers, who escape by speedboat.
Hong Kong customs officers have confiscated HK$12 million (US$1.5 million) in goods ranging from dried seafood to electronic products being smuggled into mainland China ahead of the festive season.
But a speedboat equipped with two outboard engines, which arrived from the mainland on Thursday night to transfer the cargo at a Tung Chung pier on Lantau Island, managed to flee the city’s waters with five smugglers on board, according to authorities.
Officers spotted a speedboat moving in the city’s western waters with its navigation light off before berthing at Ma Wan Chung Pier at about 7.15pm, according to the Customs and Excise Department.
A delivery van then arrived and its driver and three other men began moving the goods from the vehicle onto the speedboat. A single coxswain was on board the vessel.
The diverse shipment was intended for mainland China.
As customs officers moved in, the four men jumped onto the speedboat to join their accomplice and escape. A high-speed pursuit boat was deployed to give chase, but the smugglers managed to flee Hong Kong’s waters by heading towards the mainland. No arrests were made in the operation.
In the van, officers seized 38 boxes of smuggled goods that included bird’s nests, dried sea cucumbers, dried deer tails, and mobile phones and accessories, as well as other electronic products.
The seized goods had an estimated street value of HK$12 million in Hong Kong, according to the department.
Between January and October this year, customs officers confiscated HK$1 billion worth of contraband products from 79 sea smuggling operations. There were 84 cases totalling HK$2 billion worth of illicit goods seized in the same period last year.
In October last year, customs officers seized HK$1.2 billion worth of smuggled goods, the biggest haul in its 112-year history, intercepting them in 24 shipping containers on a vessel bound for the mainland.