Shenzhen Customs Uncover Opus One Hidden Under Car Hood

Posted: Dec 19, 2017

Customs officials in Shenzhen uncovered a wine smuggling ring when they found 13 bottles of Napa Valley’s Opus One worth about RMB 30,000 (US$4,534) hidden underneath a car hood.

According to a report by Shenzhen News, the suspect was driving from Hong Kong into the mainland via Yantian on Chung Ying Street – the historic road that straddled the boundary of mainland China and British Hong Kong during colonial times – when Customs officials stopped his car for a routine check.

An X-ray scan of the car revealed that the suspect had hidden 13 bottles of well-wrapped Opus One between the car engine and auto-bumper.

It’s unknown if the wines are destined for sale or personal consumption, but it is the latest anti-wine smuggling case involving renowned wineries busted by Shenzhen Customs, says the Chinese report.

Starting from the beginning of this year, cross-border Customs officials in Shenzhen bordering Hong Kong have stepped up efforts to clamp down parallel traders pedaling tax-free fine wines from Hong Kong to mainland China.

Imported wines in mainland China are subject to close to 50% of taxes including VAT, tariff and excise tax.

Cross-border parallel traders or known as ‘coyotes’ regularly transport cheaper and tax-free goods bought from Hong Kong including baby formula, cosmetics, wines and spirits, iPhones and sell them in Mainland China for higher profits.

It’s unclear how big 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.

Opus One, a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Chateau Mouton Rothschild, is among one of the most sought-after fine wines from the US, and its popularity on the mainland has inevitably spawned some imitations as well, as previously reported by dbHK.

Quite what the state of the wine would be after an hour or so next to a car engine can only be guessed at however.

By Natalie Wang 
December 19, 2017

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