People entering the city illegally and using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge to smuggle undeclared goods are the latest illegal activities that the Macau Customs Service have cracked down on as they beef up patrols and inspections at the city’s border during the current COVID-19 epidemic.
The Customs Service said in a statement on Wednesday that its officers arrested two men who entered the peninsula by motorised sampan on Monday.
According to the statement, officers on a patrol boat spotted a man about to berth a sampan at the Inner Harbour Pier No. 6B on Monday afternoon. The officers suspected that the skipper of the sampan was a people smuggler (known as “snakehead” in the Cantonese jargon), so when the sampan was about to leave the pier, the officers stopped the sampan and took two people from the boat in for questioning.
The statement said that one of the men is a Hong Kong permanent resident who works as a fisherman, while the skipper is a mainlander. Both are in their 40s.
The suspects have been transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) as the Hong Kong resident did not use the normal border checkpoint to go through entry and exit procedures and instead went straight to his fishing boat anchored in nearby waters. The mainlander faces a charge of abetting illegal immigration.
The statement urged the public to report suspected illegal immigration activities by calling the Macau Customs Service 24-hour hotline on 28965001.
Clamping down on smuggling
Meanwhile, in separate statement, Macau Customs Service officers busted multiple cases of people transporting large amounts of undeclared goods via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) into Macau.
According to the statement, officers recently seized a total 1,007 items ranging from computer tablets and multimedia set-top boxes to handbags and beauty products in six cases, estimated to be worth 430,000 patacas (US$53,700) in total.
The statement said that officers at the HZMB Macau checkpoint last Friday inspected a vehicle with Hong Kong and Macau entry plates as part of its “risk management system”, and discovered 519 skincare products and cosmetics in the vehicle. The driver was taken in for questioning.
Then on Monday and Tuesday, when officers ran X-ray checks on the luggage of travellers entering Macau, five of them were found carrying computer tablets, multimedia set-top boxes, raw honey, skincare products, handbags, purses and wallets, earphones, trainers and other goods, 488 items in total, in their suitcases.
The statement said that the six suspects, two men and four women, comprise three Hong Kong residents, two Macau residents and a non-resident worker.
None of them had submitted any valid customs declaration documents to the officers, and all claimed that the goods were for personal use or for sale. According to the statement, the suspects have been transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP), each facing a fine ranging from 1,000 to 50,000 patacas for breaching the External Trade Law. All the products have been confiscated by the government.
In addition, the statement pointed out that the handbags, purses, wallets and shoes among the 80 items in the haul carried by the non-resident worker were counterfeit goods so that the Customs Service has launched an investigation into the alleged violation of intellectual property rights (IPRs).
The statement said that the Customs Service has strengthened its monitoring and intelligence gathering to improve its anti-contraband operations.
The Macau Customs Service reminds the public that the entry and exit of goods in Macau is regulated by the External Trade Law. Travellers should check the relevant import and export regulations in advance in order to avoid breaching the law. For more information on the matter, members of the public are advised to check the www.customs.gov.mo website or call the Macau Customs Service hotline 89893317.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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