Hong Kong Authorities Intercept Smuggler With 596 CPUs Hidden In A Mercedes

Recently, Hong Kong customs officials successfully intercepted an attempt to smuggle a significant number of CPUs into mainland China. The operation led to the confiscation of 596 processors, valued at approximately HK$12 million (about $1.53 million).

This places the average value of each CPU around $2,500, indicating they are high-end models. The processors appear to be older Intel Xeon chips, specifically Intel Xeon Gold 6148 20-core CPUs, as suggested by images shared by the customs team that match listings found online.

The bust was detailed in a post on the Hong Kong customs blog, showcasing the team’s pride in their accomplishment. The vehicle carrying the CPUs was stopped at the Shenzhen Bay Control Point. An X-ray scan revealed irregularities, prompting a more thorough investigation.

This led to the discovery of hidden compartments in the vehicle’s sides and trunk, where the 51-year-old driver had concealed the processors. This incident underscores the extreme measures individuals will take to import advanced technology from the West into China, where certain hardware is banned due to stringent import restrictions.

The intercepted CPUs, despite being older models from the Skylake family launched in 2017, might not necessarily be illegal under current US sanctions, which primarily aim to curb China’s advancements in AI and military technologies by restricting the import of advanced server hardware. However, the age of these CPUs suggests they might not fall under the latest embargoes.

The driver, if successful, would have evaded approximately $384,000 USD in taxes. He now faces severe legal repercussions, including up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 USD. Presently, he is out on bail awaiting trial. The origins and intended destination of the CPUs remain unclear, leaving several questions unanswered about the broader smuggling operation and its motivations. This incident highlights ongoing tensions and the significant economic stakes involved in the trade of advanced technological components between the US and China.

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