Smuggling drugs is obviously old hat, especially when what people really want are iPad and iPhones.
Drug smuggling has been big business for decades, but there’s a new trend now for smuggling the latest technology across borders. OK, so this is strictly limited to borders between two countries which has one side receiving different treatment to the other, and nothing illegal is actually being smuggled, but it’s still an intriguing development.
The news comes via the Wall Street Journal after originally being reported in Guangzhou Daily. The incident itself happened last week in Shenzhen, a Chinese city just across the border from Hong Kong.
Chinese customs officials caught 14 housewives carrying iPads, iPhones, and other smartphones across from Hong Kong into China. Between them they had 88 iPads and 344 mobiles, altogether worth around 950,000 yuan ($143,000). One of the women had 65 mobile phones strapped to her body and another 20 in her handbag.
The women are from Shenzhen, Shantou, and other Southern China cities. All were dressed similarly in fashionable clothing, and all were carrying large bags over their shoulders. It was this that roused suspicion amongst customs officials when they spotted the group on video surveillance. The women are thought to have been receiving 200 yuan ($30) per run across the border, and the suggestion is that this is a regular occurrence.
Apple is actually already selling the iPad in mainland China, but it’s only the Wi-Fi version whereas the 3G version is available in Hong Kong. The difference in pricing will also be fueling this elicit trade, with the iPad costing hundreds of dollars less in Hong Kong than it does in China.
This goes to show that where there is demand – be it drugs or technology – people will find a way of supplying it. If more manufacturers embraced China as a market worthy of its time and effort then smuggling would be less common.