HONG KONG Sixteen members of a smuggling gang in China and Hong Kong have been arrested for rigging a 300-metre long cable to send contraband goods across the heavily-policed border, a newspaper reported Thursday.
The gang had initially used a crossbow to shoot the cable across the fenced-off border between the two sides, before stringing it from the top of a Chinese highrise down to a village house in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported.
Investigators said the gang had likely been operating for two to three weeks, using a zip wire and pulley system to whisk small batches of goods along the cable, mostly at night.
"They took 10 to 15 seconds to smuggle goods weighing 3-5kg, such as 20-30 mobile phones each time," Leo Sin, a senior Hong Kong customs' intelligence officer was quoted as saying.
Electronics goods worth more than $770,000 were seized, including 3,300 mobile phones and 2,100 computer memory cards, the paper reported.
The newspaper said it was the first time such a method had been deployed by cross-border smugglers, who have in the past dug tunnels to ferret electronics underground and to pump contraband diesel between the two sides.
Twelve people from mainland China and four from Hong Kong were arrested.
(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)