Housewives Face Trial for Smuggling iPhones and iPads in China

November 19, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

A Chinese court has accused 25 suspects of smuggling Apple phones and tablet computers worth 500 million yuan (which is about $80.25 million). The smuggled goods were for the benefit of an online gadget store on

The members of the five smuggling gangs delivered more than 162,000 iPhones and iPads to Lanyou Numeral, which was once the top seller of the country’s renowned online shopping platform. The trial for the accused was held on Wednesday in Shenzhen City in the southern Guangdong Province.

Smuggling is not the only crime they have been accused of. Apparently the culprits also managed to evade taxes that amount to 54.87 million yuan.

But the most interesting twist to this smuggling story is that more than half of the suspects are housewives. These women reportedly donned the role of tourists in Hong Kong, and bought themselves large quantities of handsets, which were then sold off in the mainland.

These housewives got 20 to 30 yuan as commission for each item brought off them. Most of the suspects have confessed to the crime and said they thought they were just doing a part-time job; quite a job for housewives!!

Last year, Hong Kong residents were reportedly finding it hard to get Apple products, in spite of the devices being in plenty of supply. An investigation disclosed that the products were being smuggled to the mainland without import duties, and being sold off even before the devices’ official release.

Although 104 suspects had been arrested by Shenzhen Customs in April, only 25 of them were taken to trial on Wednesday. The court didn’t issue any verdict, and nothing has been said about the other arrested.

Those who are accused of smuggling firearms and drugs in China could be sentenced to death. Apparently, smuggling in iPhones and iPads might not gain them such a fatal punishment,

Rather, the accused could be facing a term of life in prison.

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