Two major silver smuggling cases involving 1.639 billion yuan (220 million U.S. dollars) were busted in Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong in south China's Guangdong Province, customs officials announced on Wednesday.
Two gangs of smugglers concealed silver bullion in secret compartments in container trucks which shuttled daily between Shenzhen and Hong Kong and smuggled nearly 456 tons of silver since February this year, according to customs officials.
After entering the mainland, the silver was transported to the provincial capital Guangzhou or elsewhere but was never used in production, the police said.
Anti-smuggling police investigated the smuggling dens in Guangzhou and Shenzhen on June 20 and 26, seizing a total of 3.43 tons of silver.
The cases are said to be the largest silver smuggling cases busted since 1949, according to Shenzhen Customs. Currently, 15 members of the gang have been arrested, six of whom are from Hong Kong,
According to Song Min, deputy director of Shenzhen customs anti-smuggling bureau, most of the silver seized was from the Chinese mainland. Smugglers took the silver to Hong Kong to cheat state tax rebates.
China's silver export enterprises could get 13 percent tax rebates before July 1, 2007. The smugglers bought silver in Hong Kong and resold it to mainland export companies so as to once again earn rebates.