updated 12:50 pm EDT, Mon August 8, 2011
Likely small corner of current smuggling operation
Customs officers in Hong Kong and mainland China have stopped an elaborate and unusual smuggling operation, reports say. To transport iPads and iPhones into the mainland, a pulley cable was strung over a river from a rural home in northern Hong Kong to a highrise in the city of Shenzhen. The cable was fired over the water using a crossbow, and the Apple hardware pulled into Shenzhen at night using nylon bags. A one-way trip for a bag is said to have taken roughly two minutes.
The smuggling was halted following a customs surveillance operation. Six people have been arrested; confiscated goods include 50 iPad 2s and 50 iPhone 4s, together estimated to be worth about 300,000 yuan, or $46,583.
The goods seized are likely a fraction of those passing into China from Hong Kong. Because Hong Kong is treated as a separate political entity, it has been able to achieve lower prices on Apple products. On the mainland Apple products are dramatically more expensive than in much of the world, even though the hardware is actually assembled in cities such as Shenzhen.