25 charged in China for smuggling iPhones

Those charged were from five gangs and had smuggled 162,000 mobile phones--a majority of which were iPhones worth of US$79 million--and committed for tax evasion amounting to US$8.68 million.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

Twenty-five people in China have been charged for smuggling mobile phones with a total value exceeding 500 million yuan (US$79 million), according to data from the Chinese Customs.

Local media reported on Thursday these smuggling chains were discovered during police investigations on a top mobile phone online shop in Taobao this April, which is famous for selling Apple products and related accessories with franchises in nearly 100 cities across the country.

The shop sells nearly 20,000 Apple-related products monthly, according to the report. Due to limited supply, it had been difficult to purchase an iPhone 4S, but Taobao was able to sell the the device at a lower-than-market prices in China.

The Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) noted the situation and worked with Chinese Customs to investigate the cases. It found the majority of products sold in the online shop were smuggled and over 100,000 units had been sold, ranging  from the iPhone and iPad, to other electronic products.

Over 100 smugglers were arrested in the case, but only 25 of them were prosecuted in court on Wednesday. According to media reports, over half of the smugglers involved in the case were women who were paid 20 to 30 yuan (US$3.2 to US$4.7) for transporting a handset from Hong Kong to China. On average, each of these was able to smuggle over 60 units of handsets to China every day.

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