Mumbai: On 23-24 June, following a yearlong investigation known as ‘Operation Codebreaker’, the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department raided 17 locations in Hong Kong. The locations were connected to a syndicate selling pirated movies on optical discs smuggled in from Mainland China by couriers. The syndicate’s daily turnover was estimated at $20,000 per day giving an estimated annual turnover of $7.3 million.
Hong Kong Customs arrested 14 men and seven women aged between 16 and 70 years, including two men who are believed to be the syndicate masterminds. The raids were concentrated in Hong Kong’s busy Wanchai District and hit twelve residential premises, a pirated optical disc storehouse and two retail shops selling pirated optical discs and computer hardware. The International Federation Against Copyright Theft – Greater China (IFACT-GC), representing the CJ Mark Committee in Hong Kong provided investigation support during the raids.
Seizures made during the raids included 12,000 pirated optical discs, two vehicles, $300,000 cash and 14 computers. Evidence of the syndicate’s money-laundering activities has also been gathered.
"In addition to harming Hong Kong’s reputation, criminal syndicates like this cause serious harm to our economy and the movie production and distribution industry," said IFACT-GC executive director and general manager Sam Ho.