Customs officers in Zhanjiang, a city on the Leizhou Peninsula of western Guangdong province, have seized smuggled cigarettes valued at more than 2.01 billion yuan ($297.78 million).
The seizure came as part of a recent joint operation with public security and tobacco departments from Guangdong province and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
The smuggled cigarettes were estimated to have evaded taxes of more than 1.34 billion yuan.
A total of 41 suspected smugglers were detained in the operation, which was launched simultaneously in several Guangdong and Guangxi cities, according to Xu Fengwei, a senior officer from Zhanjiang Customs.
“The operation has dealt a heavy blow to local smugglers after two major foreign and four domestic smuggling gangs that used to be active in Guangdong and Guangxi were busted during the operation that was participated in by more than 300 law enforcers earlier this month,” said Xu.
“The gangs were investigated on suspicion of smuggling cigarettes from Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, to the prosperous Pearl River delta for big profits via some Guangxi border cities since 2016,” he said.
A channel for smuggling cigarettes from Southeast Asia to Guangdong via Guangxi has also been destroyed following the crackdown of the cigarette smuggling case , he said.
“It is one of largest cigarette smuggling cases that has been cracked down on in the southern Chinese region in recent years, and the crackdown of the case has also helped deter other domestic and foreign smugglers active in the region, ” Xu said.