Hong Kong police arrest suspected leader of smuggling ring, seize 5 speedboats at Lantau site

·3-min read

Hong Kong police arrested the alleged ringleader of a cross-border smuggling syndicate on Wednesday and seized five powerful speedboats hidden nearby at a remote spot on Lantau Island.

Chief Inspector Yu Pok-hon, of the New Territories South anti-triad squad, said intelligence led officers to the coastal site near Tai Ho Wan, which was used as a shelter by the syndicate to conceal its boats amid an ongoing crackdown on the gangs behind cross-border smuggling activities.

Officers descended on the site and seized the vessels shortly before noon on Wednesday. Yu said the boats were between nine and 12 metres in length, and each was fitted with two outboard engines, enabling them to reach speeds of 80km/h.

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“The haul has an estimated street value of about HK$4 million [US$514,000],” he said.

Hong Kong customs seizes HK$1.2 billion worth of products in biggest-ever haul

At the same time, police arrested the 58-year-old suspected ringleader in nearby Pak Mong. The man was believed to have owned two of the boats himself, and was detained on suspicion of construction of vessels for the purpose of smuggling – an offence punishable by up to seven years in jail and a HK$2 million fine.

“The investigation suggests the suspect has a triad background, and he is the alleged mastermind of a smuggling syndicate which is active on Lantau Island,” the chief inspector said.

Yu said he believed the owners of the other boats were also members of the syndicate, adding that the investigation was continuing and further arrests were possible.

The force has stepped up its fight against sea smuggling after two men suspected of engaging in the racket rammed their boat into a Hong Kong police vessel in mainland Chinese waters during a high-speed pursuit on September 25, killing an officer.

Lam Yuen-yee, who was posthumously promoted last week from senior to chief inspector, was thrown overboard with three other officers by the force of the collision. While her colleagues were rescued immediately, Lam was missing for two days, and her body was later found in Hong Kong waters off Lantau.

Chief Inspector Yu Pok-hon speaks to the media after Wednesday’s bust on Lantau. Photo: Facebook
Chief Inspector Yu Pok-hon speaks to the media after Wednesday’s bust on Lantau. Photo: Facebook

On October 4, local authorities raided a site at Tung Chung Bay on Lantau, confiscating 39 speedboats and eight new outboard engines still in their boxes. The vessels and engines were valued at HK$12 million, but no arrests were made.

Yu said police would continue to exchange intelligence and cooperate with other departments to fight against smuggling activities.

Hong Kong authorities seize 39 speedboats believed to have been used for smuggling

Hong Kong customs has also stepped up efforts against such operations, seizing HK$1.2 billion (US$154.3 million) worth of contraband products in mid-October from two dozen shipping containers bound for the mainland – the biggest haul in its 112-year history.

The high-value goods – ranging from dried seafood and products made from endangered species to luxury handbags and electronic gadgets – were estimated to be more valuable than the HK$1.08 billion worth of contraband customs officers seized across 211 sea smuggling 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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