Brit Arrested Smuggling 100k Face Masks Worth 2.6m GBP

Story ByMichael Leidig, Sub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyCentral European News

A British lorry driver has been in Morocco while trying to take over 100,000 protective masks out of the country so he could sell them on at a price of around 26 GBP each.

The lorry driver was stopped during a routine search in Tangier Med, a port town in the north of Morocco, where customs officers discovered the mask were being removed from the country illegally, according to local media.

Prices for the masks have soared as fears over the coronavirus rise, leading to panic buying and the shortage of stocks.

Picture Credit: CEN

The man was planning to take them back to the UK, according to reports in local media, where the price was now around 26 GBP per mask.

The British lorry driver is now in custody charged with smuggling the masks out of the country. They had been given a provisional valuation of 2.6 million GBP for the purposes of the criminal case against him.

Morocco this week announced its first case of coronavirus when a Moroccan man was diagnosed as infected after returning from a trip to Bergamo in Italy.

Many countries have introduced restrictions on the export of face masks in order to ensure there is enough supply to meet local demand, and in Morocco thousands of masks that have been imported from China were then re-exported back to China and a substantial profit for the company’s concerned.

This reportedly led to restrictions in the country to ensure local demand could continue to be met as local manufacturers were reportedly only able to satisfy between 15 and 20 percent of it.

The Moroccan Association of Medical Device Professionals (AMPDM) said the other 80 to 85 percent of masks used were imported exclusively from China with supply now cut off as China uses its masks for its own requirements.

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