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Shenzhen Vows to Wipe Out Smuggling
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This south China city has decided to wipe out smuggling, a senior customs officer said yesterday.

Shenzhen shares land borders and a 400-kilometer coastline with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

"We will hunt them (the smugglers) down. To those who want to try (smuggling), we suggest they give up the idea only handcuffs and jail will be waiting for them," Shenzhen Customs' deputy director Zhang Huanu warned.

At a press conference to review Shenzhen's crackdown on smuggling in 2006, Zhang said customs officers cracked 2,972 cases and seized contraband worth 1.6 billion yuan ($200 million) last year. These goods could have yielded a tax of 509 million yuan ($64 million).

The customs department stepped up its efforts to check smuggling across the city and especially in the non-checkpoint areas, Zhang said.

"Last year we conducted a 70-day operation against smuggling in non-checkpoint areas such as Huizhou and south Shenzhen's Nan'ao and Dapeng," Zhang said, "in which 130 rackets, including three big ones, were busted and 245 suspects held."

Apart from the land borders, "the distance from Shenzhen to Hong Kong varies between 10 to 40 nautical miles, with the latter's Ji'ao Island being only 3 nautical miles away from Shenzhen's Yantian it allows smugglers to escape easily, making our anti-smuggling task even harder," Zhang said.

Despite such natural factors working against Zhang and his colleagues, they cracked 44 drug smuggling cases last year and seized 238.3 kilograms of narcotics, equal to the total seizures in the previous three years.

Shenzhen Customs joined hands with Hong Kong Customs and the United States drug enforcement bureau, under US Justice Department, last year to seize 142 kilograms of cocaine, the largest haul by China's customs since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Also, the customs officers seized 48.42 kilograms of ketamine in a single operation and put 14 suspects behind bars, making it the country's largest non-checkpoint smuggling case last year.

(China Daily January 9, 2007)

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