Hong Kong customs have seized nearly 540 tonnes of suspected smuggled frozen meat with an estimated market value of HK$50 million on November 29. The authorities said in a statement that meat was found abroad while four suspicious fishing vessels that were reportedly leaving the former British colony. According to a report by a local broadcaster, the vessels were allegedly being sent to mainland China. This is also the city's largest bust of its kind in last ten years.
After the outbreak of swine flu fever among the pigs of China, meat prices in the country have hit a record time high. This situation has made meat smuggling more profitable than any other time in the past. The Hong Kong authorities have arrested six men between the age of 52 and 64. However, the statement did not mention which meat was being smuggled. China has been trying to increase meat imports in the country with pork arrivals in October being nearly double from that of last year and beef arrivals hiked up to nearly 63.2 per cent. The recent haul by custom authorities was discovered in an anti-smuggling operation involving nearly 150 officers and eight pursuit crafts.
Reportedly, a law enforcement source said that the smuggling operation was supposed to evade the hefty taxes by Beijing and import restrictions such as health monitoring measures. The Beijing authorities have imposed 70 per cent taxes on frozen meat and there were an additional 25 per cent tariffs on the goods by the United States during the trade war between two countries. However, this was also the ninth case of frozen meat being smuggled that they had encountered. The officers have seized nearly 976 tonnes of frozen meat, including the case in Thursday, worth HK$64 million. In 2019, the tally was 1.3 times of the meat the authorities had confiscated the during the entire span of 2009 to 2018.