High-tech smuggling case reveals drone dilemma for authorities

Updated 2018-03-30 10:10:09

Customs authorities in South China's Shenzhen have arrested 26 members of a suspected smuggling ring that used drones to transport undeclared refurbished phones with a total estimated value of 500 million yuan (.47 million) between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

The drones carried cables late at night to set conveyor lines across the border between a house in Hong Kong and a condominium at Yanfang Road in Luohu district, Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province. There were just a few dozen meters between the two locations, according to a report on China Central Television (CCTV) on Thursday.

More than 4,000 undeclared phones and smuggling equipment were found at the dens.

Every night, the suspects were able to smuggle 10,000 to 15,000 mobile phones, which mainly consisted of refurbished iPhone models with an individual profit of around 30 yuan.

"According to initial estimates, the monthly income for the suspects could be more than 10 million yuan if they worked 15 days per month," said Chen Liang, vice-director of investigation of Wenjindu Customs House, an affiliate of the Shenzhen Customs District.

Supervising the use of drones has become an important task for the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) of China, as there are more than a million drones in the country but only 180,000 of them are real-name registered, said CCTV.

China's relevant departments are working on the first administrative rules for drones. The first opinions and comments on the document were gathered in February.

The document contains clauses related to drones, pilots, air traffic, and administration, and will reinforce the real-name registration of all drone owners.

To strengthen the administration, six cloud platforms have already been established, through which "the drones' operating conditions including flying routes, height and other factors, can be monitored in real time and controlled, if necessary," Yin Shijun, a chief engineer at CAA, was quoted as saying.

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