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Police stub out cigarettes fakes gang

SEVEN people have been apprehended for trying to export fake cigarettes worth more than 50 million yuan (US$7.32 million), city police economic crime investigators said yesterday.

Police seized six containers filled with fake Marlboro and Rothmans cigarettes before they could be shipped overseas, officials said.

Police officers were tipped off in August last year about a small sea-freight forwarding service provider registered in Hongkou District that had seen a rapid expansion in its business.

"Competition among freight-forwarding businesses in the city is stiff and it was a little bit uncommon that such a small enterprise could grow that fast," said Jin Yaqi, one of the investigators.

Officers found that the company had reported to Customs that they were sending nine containers of glass candleholders, which don't require Customs checks, abroad.

Police asked the Customs office to open one container and found counterfeit tobacco.

The fakes had been sent to Shanghai by sea to avoid highway checks.

Police traced suspects through the company's Customs declaration. Five of the gang, surnamed Bi, Chu, Zhou, Zhang and Liang, were caught in Shanghai on August 30.

Wu and Lin, two Fujian Province natives, were caught in a mountain area in the province in September and November, officers said. Wu, the main suspect, transported the fake cigarettes to Shanghai with Lin's help, and supplied them to the five suspects in Shanghai.

Cases violating intellectual property rights have been on the increase in recent years, said Tang Xiliang, deputy chief of Shanghai's economic crime investigation team. Apart from videos and automobile accessories, items such as food, medicine, tobacco, wine and cosmetics were often found to be fake and inferior.


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