Local court releases smuggling white paper

Cases on the rise thanks to new criminal practices and insider collusion.

Smuggling is on rise in Shanghai thanks to new smuggling methods and collusion among industry insiders, according to local authorities.

From 2015 to 2017, the Shanghai No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court dealt with 222 smuggling cases, according to a white paper on smuggling published by the court yesterday. The paper, the first of its kind published by the court, also showed the smuggling cases it accepted rising from 46 in 2015 to 90 in 2017.

Of the cases, nearly 74 percent involved commodities such as wine, cigarettes, cosmetics, jewelry, luxurious goods and electronic products. Nearly 13 percent concerned rare animal products such as ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horn.

Drugs accounted for some 7 percent of the cases. Besides drugs like cocaine and heroin, these also included new types of drugs containing analeptics and hallucinogens that are harder to detect.

According to the document, inbound travelers who don’t declare overseas purchases to customs authorities are also guilty of smuggling.

In one such incident, a man returned from South Korea with a suitcase full of luxury items. An investigation showed he evaded more than 400,000 yuan (US$61,019) in taxes. As he bought the items for personal use and to give as gifts, he was immune from criminal punishment but the luxury items were seized.

Such crimes are increasing, but a more serious problem is that smugglers are conspiring with insiders like airport, airline and postal employees, and even customs officials, according to the white paper.

In one case, two employees from China Eastern Airlines were recruited by a smuggler surnamed Yan to transport cigarettes and perfumes.

In seven months, Yan smuggled goods 45 times and evaded nearly 7.3 million yuan in taxes. He was sentenced to ten and a half years behind bars. The two airlines employees were sentenced to one and a half years.

For smugglers who traffic exotic drugs, many don’t hide what they are carrying and then claim to be unaware of its illegal nature once caught, the white paper said.

In one case, a man tried to bring 70 kilograms of khat powder into China. He claimed the powder was used to brew traditional Arabic tea. Actually, it contains a substance akin to amphetamine and is listed as a narcotic by many countries, including China. The man was given seven years behind bars.

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