Five suspected smugglers were arrested during a night raid on an abandoned factory complex which uncovered more than 2,000 iPhones sneaked into mainland China from Hong Kong via an 820-foot underground tunnel.
Members of the People’s Armed Police in the city of Shenzhen, in China’s southern province of Guangdong, seized 18 boxes of Apple iPhone XSs, the unit announced on 27th November.
The devices had been smuggled across the border from Hong Kong, where lower import tariffs mean the phones can be purchased for cheaper than in mainland China – 8,599 HKD (850 GBP) for a brand-new iPhone 11 Pro compared to 8,699 RMB (957 GBP).
Border patrol officers whose job it is to stamp out similar smuggling operations by land and sea said they were first alerted to possibly illicit activities when they noticed a suspicious vehicle coming in and out of the derelict factory complex which had been scheduled for demolition.
Officer Zeng Hui told local media they pursued and detained five suspects, uncovering the boxes of more than 2,000 iPhones XSs.
However, they continued searching when they found no trace of smuggling tools inside their vehicle.
They targeted one particular multi-storey building – an old dormitory – after noticing it was the only one with boarded-up windows.
A search turned up numerous tools, including scissors, cables and boxes, but also uncovered a room filled with more than 300 tyres.
The old rubber tyres concealed a mechanical winch and rope, as well as an underground tunnel some 20 centimetres (8 inches) in diameter.
They discovered that the tunnel, which they say is 250 metres (820 feet) long, extends beneath the natural border that is the Sham Chun River all the way into Hong Kong.
Zeng said the iPhones were placed in canvas bags, stringed together and then transported across the border into China using the tunnel and winch.
They are continuing to investigate and have yet to announce whether accomplices had been identified across the border.
It was also unclear how the tunnel was constructed by the smuggling gang.
The ViralTab page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.