Last week customs officials working at the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge stopped a truck driver who they thought was looking “nervous”. With good reason; after searching him they found the dude was literally strapped with concealed CPUs.
As Chinese-language site HKEPC reported, the truck driver was stopped on June 16, and was found to have a whopping 256 Intel CPUs—a mix of i7-10700 and i9-10900Ks—strapped to his torso and legs.
Trade in smuggled CPUs is actually a thing between mainland China and Hong Kong at the moment. On June 16 another truck—ostensibly carrying other cargo—was found on closer inspection to have 52 CPUs hidden in a compartment between the seats, while on June 18 an “anti-smuggling operation” resulted in a speedboat chase (a different speedboat chase involving Hong Kong customs to the one we reported on in April!) that ended with the seizure of over $20 million worth of goods, including “electronic products”. I don’t know if this second case involved CPUs or not, but just wanted to point out that Hong Kong authorities are on some Miami Vice shit at the moment.
On July 5 another huge bust was made, this time involving “over 2,200 central processing units,” and “over 1,000 computer RAM units,” that were being transported inside a shipping container.
Why all the smuggling? The global chip shortage is affecting almost every aspect of the electronics business, including CPU production and sales, and getting chips manufactured on the mainland into Hong Kong is a good way to sell them on for massive profits. Provided you don’t get caught, anyway, as “under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.”
Indeed things are getting so bad that, as the South China Morning Post reports, on June 16, “Three men in Hong Kong assaulted and robbed a man of electronic chips worth about HK$5 million (US$644,000), in a rare hi-tech robbery case.”