In view of the increasing demand of illegal COVID-19 oral drugs from society and an upward trend of related smuggling cases since January this year, Hong Kong Customs has conducted special operations to strengthen enforcement against the smuggling of COVID-19 oral drugs into Hong Kong.
Since the operations, Customs has detected 33 suspected smuggling cases of imported COVID-19 oral drugs. About 257 000 tablets of COVID-19 oral drugs with an estimated market value of over $15 million have been seized.
Among them, 27 cases involved smuggling of illegal COVID-19 oral drugs through parcel and cargo channels, while the remaining six cases involved passengers bringing the related drugs into the city without a licence.
During the operations, 20 persons have been arrested. Investigations of the above-mentioned cases are ongoing and the likelihood of further arrests is not ruled out.
Customs reminds members of the public that a passenger bringing into or out of Hong Kong any controlled medicines without a licence issued by the Department of Health may be liable to prosecution with subject items seized. However, medicines carried by a passenger in his/her personal baggage and in a reasonable quantity for his/her personal use may be exempted from licensing requirements.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person who imports pharmaceutical products and medicines without a valid import licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years.
Under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, any person who possesses any poison included in Part 1 of the Poisons List other than in accordance with provisions commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for two years.
Sources: THX News & The HK Government.