A mainland woman was jailed for two weeks for trying to smuggle across the border 20 kilograms of infant formula, over 10 times the 1.8 kg limit allowed by law.
But despite intensified efforts by law enforcement agencies to clamp down on parallel trading, the number of cases filed with the courts almost tripled last year from 2013, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.
On Wednesday alone, 24 cases of infant formula smuggling were being processed at the Fanling Magistrates Court. This included the case of a 30-year-old female clerk who was handed a jail term of two weeks for trying to smuggle 22 cans of milk powder at the Lok Ma Chau border on Jan. 31.
Fanling Court principal magistrate Bernadette Woo warned smuggling syndicates against deploying seniors in the illegal trade, saying that law enforcers and the courts will not exercise leniency against violators.
Since restrictions on carrying infant formula across the border went into effect in 2013, the number of criminal cases handled by the Fanling Magistrates Court has skyrocketed from around 2,400 cases a year to 7,000 in 2014, Woo said. Most of the new cases were related to parallel trading of cigarettes and infant formula products.
The courts tried to exercise maximum tolerance on parallel trading cases, but the situation has grown out of control, Woo said.
Since the ban on carrying over 1.8kg of milk powder took effect, local courts have processed 7,638 such cases up to November 30, 2014, with 7,688 people arrested and 45,510kg of baby powder confiscated.
Fines handed to violators ranged from HK$200 to HK$150,000, with defendants in 69 cases sentenced to imprisonment terms of one to 140 days. In 507 other cases, the smugglers were jailed from six to 240 days, suspended for 12 months.
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