HONG KONG — Smugglers have been caught using fishing line and a pulley to smuggle goods from Hong Kong to a high-rise flat on the China side of the border, customs officials said Thursday.
The audacious crooks used a catapult to shoot fishing line from the roof of a two-story home on the Hong Kong side of the border, crossing security fences and a narrow river to China.
Colleagues on the China side then hoisted the line to a high-rise flat nearby and set up a 300 meter line on a pulley system to smuggle goods under cover of darkness.
For weeks, they wrapped mobile phones, SIM cards and computer parts in black plastic bags and moved them using the pulley and line in loads of three to five kilograms at a time.
Each load would take just 15 seconds to make its way from the roof of the Hong Kong house to the flat on the China side of the border, a customs spokesman said.
Sadly for the smugglers, the flaw in the scheme was that the pulley system made so much noise it alerted neighbors who complained to police soon after the lucrative operation began in early May.
They were arrested in a joint operation by Hong Kong and Chinese customs officers Tuesday morning after a one-week surveillance operation, the spokesman said.
Four Hong Kong men and 12 mainland Chinese men were arrested and 5,830 mobile phones, 2,100 computer parts and 450 memory cards seized with a total value of around US$770,000.
Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 but has a separate judicial and fiscal system and maintains tight border controls with neighboring Guangdong province.