This photo, released by Hong Kong Customs on May 10, 2022, shows boxes containing suspected illicit cigarettes seized by the Customs officials in separate drives on May 4 and 5 in Yuen Long and the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound. (PHOTO / INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT, HKSAR)

Hong Kong Customs seized about 27 million suspected illicit cigarettes with an estimated market value of about HK$74 million ($9.43 million) and a duty potential of about HK$51 million in separate drives in Yuen Long and the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound last week.

In the first case on May 4, officers intercepted a container truck in Kung Um Road in Yuen Long, and found about 12 million suspected illicit cigarettes inside a 40-foot container, according to a government press release.  

A 40-year-old man was arrested for alleged links to it. 

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After a follow-up investigation, Customs officers on the next day searched a 20-foot container at a metal hut near Kung Um Road in the district, and further seized about 4.6 million suspected illicit cigarettes. 

In the second case, Customs officers on May 5 selected for inspection a 40-oot seaborne container, declared as carrying knitted fabric, arriving from Cambodia en route to the Philippines via Hong Kong in the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound.  

Upon inspection, Customs officers seized about 10 million suspected illicit cigarettes inside the container. 

Customs officials are working to trace the source and flow of the illicit cigarettes and are not ruling out the likelihood of further arrests. ]

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Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, the maximum penalty for dealing with, possession of, selling or buying illicit cigarettes is a fine of HK$1 million and imprisonment for two years.