Hong Kong police make largest smuggling bust worth $26.9M

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HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong authorities on Thursday said they have made their largest smuggling bust, seizing goods including endangered species worth an estimated $26.9 million.

The government said the smuggling ring operated using speedboats and that four trucks were also impounded in the raid.

It said a 34-year-old man was arrested in the operation that began in June and more details were set to be released. A statement said the customs department and the marine police small boat division descended on the smugglers who were operating in the city's New Territories close to mainland China on Sept. 23.

“This is the largest smuggling case among all forms of smuggling by air, sea and land detected by Customs on record in terms of the seizure value,” the government said.

Seized items displayed at a news conference included endangered plants, luxury handbags, cigars and shark's fin, which is prized as a delicacy in southern Chinese cuisine.

The semi-autonomous southern Chinese city has a high demand for luxury items along with abundant air and sea links to world markets. However, officials at the news conference said the smuggled items appeared intended for customers in mainland China.