Shenzhen Customs busts US$11.6m smuggled wines

7th April, 2017 by Natalie Wang

Shenzhen Customs has busted an illegal wine smuggling ring and confiscated around 10,000 bottles of contraband wines, valued at RMB 80 million (US$11.6 million), the latest and biggest haul yet as cross-border checkpoints tighten up control on smuggled goods.

The wines tax value alone amounted to RMB 20 million (US$2.9 million), reported Chinese news site Wine Business Observer.

The case was brought to light when customs officers spent a year doing surveillance work on a local gang smuggling untaxed spirits into China that led to the discovery of smuggled Penfolds and undeclared Portuguese wines, the report said.

One insider with Shenzhen Wine Association told the news outlet that these confiscated Portuguese wines were so numerous they, “can fill up 10 wine shelves”.

This bust came hard on the heels of an anti-smuggling campaign launched last year by the customs department in China’s coastal cities. Since then police have stepped up their efforts to clean up illegal channels for smuggled goods including introducing a special lane for cross-border visitors with large suitcases. Goods such as milk formula, cosmetics and iPhones are often smuggled from Hong Kong to mainland China.

One anonymous wine merchant who deals in smuggled wines said that contraband wines and spirits are particularly targeted by customs officers. The smugglers who routinely carry wines from Hong Kong to mainland China either for wine merchants or private clients are known as ‘Coyotes’.

“Since the second half of last year, control has become tighter, and prices for smuggled wines have thus increased as well. The emergence of cross-border e-commerce trading and increasing numbers of fine wine suppliers have pushed merchants to be more careful with smuggled goods,” one wine merchant based in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province in southwestern China, told the newspaper.

It’s unclear how big the size of the Coyote operation is but it’s an open secret that a sizeable share of Hong Kong’s fine wines in particular eventually end up in the mainland market either through legal or illegal channels, a point noted by Vinexpo CEO Guillaume Deglise as well during his press conference in Hong Kong recently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

On-Trade Regional Sales Manager

Anthony Byrne Fine Wines
London and the South East, UK

Commercial Director

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Key Accounts Manager - Impulse Channel

Australian Vintage Limited
Croydon, Greater London, United Kingdom, UK

Sales Support Assistant

H2Vin Ltd
London, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, Surrey

Sales Order Processor

Amathus Drinks
Park Royal, London NW10, UK

Sales Executive (London – Craft Spirits)

Bimber Distillery
London, UK

Events & PR Co-ordinator

Alliance Wine
London, UK

Partner Development Manager - That Boutique-y Gin Company

That Boutique-y Gin Company
Field Based, UK

Head of Merchant Sales

Grapevine the Wineservice Company
Cumbria, UK

Business Development Manager – Central London

Marussia Beverages UK Ltd
Field based – London, UK

Account Manager – Premium Restaurants, London

Kingfisher Beer Europe Ltd
London (Central), UK

Field Sales Representative - Beer Innovation

Elastic
Various locations, UK

Events Executive

The Drinks Business
London, UK

Area Sales Executive

Gordon & Macphail
Southern England (excluding London) and Inner London, UK

The Global Beer Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st August 2017

Champagne Masters 2017

Deadline : 4th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th August 2017

The Global Riesling Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th August 2017

Click to view more

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Click to view more