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Customs net 16 smugglers fishing for mobile phones
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09:59, May 30, 2008

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Sixteen people were arrested this week for smuggling electronic products, mostly mobile phones, across the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border, using a fishing line strung between two buildings, Shenzhen customs said yesterday.

In a joint operation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong customs, officials seized about 5,800 mobile phones and other electronic products, including computer memory chips, valued at more than 6 million yuan ($865,000).

The anti-smuggling department of Shenzhen customs received a tip-off from local residents last month, and set up a team to probe the case after sharing information with its counterpart in Hong Kong.

Investigators found the smugglers were staying in two apartments on both sides of Sino-British Street, part of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border. The houses were just 200 m apart.

By attaching the mobile phones to a fishing line strung between the two buildings, the gang was able to transfer goods from Hong Kong to Shenzhen avoiding customs. The gang operated at night, usually between 1 and 4 am, about three or four times a week, investigators found.

On Tuesday morning, officials from Shenzhen and Hong Kong anti-smuggling teams conducted simultaneous raids of the two apartments.

On the Shenzhen side, the team broke into an apartment on the 27th floor after the occupants refused to open the door. Seven people were arrested and 300 mobile phones seized.

Other members of the gang were found in a meeting room on the 19th floor and a storage room on the 11th.

In total, 12 people were arrested and about 2,500 mobile phones seized.

Simultaneously, in Hong Kong, officials arrested four people, all Hong Kong residents, and seized 3,330 mobile phones, 2,100 computer chips and 450 memory cards.

A man surnamed Chen who was arrested in Shenzhen confessed he was the leader of the gang, while a second man, surnamed Zhang, said he was responsible for distributing the smuggled goods, Shenzhen customs said.

Source: China Daily

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