updated 10:50 am EST, Wed December 8, 2010
Absence of 3G iPad may be prompting crimes
Customs officials in Shenzhen, China have arrested a group of 14 housewives caught smuggling iPads into the mainland from Hong Kong, according to local paper Guangzhou Daily. Together the women were reportedly carrying 88 iPads, along with 340 cellphones. One of the women is said to have had 65 phones strapped to her waist, and over 20 more stashed in a handbag.
The total value of the goods is estimated to be about 950,000 yuan, or $143,000. The women were paid roughly 200 yuan ($30) for each border run; a customs official suggests that smugglers are increasingly using Chinese residents without criminal records as mules, since they're less likely to raise suspicion. The iPad sting represents just the latest development in a month-long campaign against luxury and electronics smugglers, which has resulted in over 1,000 arrests spread between Shenzhen and Zhuhai.
iPad smuggling may be attributable to an absence of 3G models on the mainland. Although Wi-Fi tablets are available locally, there is currently no choice but to go to Hong Kong or another country in order to get units with micro SIM slots. Worsening the situation is that China has imposed a tax on iPads carried into the country, regardless of whether or not the unit is a personal belonging.