China’s Legal Daily reported today that officials in the country just shut down a major smartphone smuggling scheme. A total of 26 suspects were arrested in connection with the plot. The individuals allegedly used drones to string two cables between Shenzhen in southern China and Hong Kong and with the setup, they could reportedly transport as many as 15,000 phones in a single night. Those arrested are accused of smuggling 500 million yuan (approximately $79.5 million) worth of smartphones.
Attempts to smuggle devices from Hong Kong to China are fairly common. A few years ago, one man tried to sneak 94 iPhones into China, all of which were strapped to his body, and in 2011, some smugglers were busted for using a slingshot to set up a zip line in between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, which they were using to transport iPads and iPhones. And in a less-successful scheme, a would-be smuggler tried to hide over 200 iPhones in empty beer bottles that were then sent from Hong Kong to China.
The Legal Daily reports that this is the first known case to have employed drones as part of the smuggling arrangement.