Fake cigarette makers closed; 20 detained
Chinese authorities have cracked down on five counterfeit cigarette production bases in Guangdong Province in the past two days, detaining at least 20 suspects.
Law enforcement personnel seized a large number of cigarette production equipment, production lines, tobacco, finished and semi-finished products and plenty of other raw materials worth millions of US dollars during special actions.
Jointly organized by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, the Ministry of Public Security and their local counterparts, the operations have taken place in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, the cities of Huizhou and Dongguan during Wednesday and yesterday.
Wei Shuqi, deputy-director of the Monopoly Sales Department at the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, promised similar operations and campaigns will be launched across the country in the coming months.
In an interview with China Daily, Wei said fake cigarette production and sales usually reach peak periods during the new year and the traditional Chinese Spring Festival that falls on February 8.
"And we will spare no efforts in cracking down on the illegal events during these periods and try to bring the fake cigarette production and sales events under control," Wei said yesterday.
He is expecting the successful campaign in Guangdong on fake cigarette plants to help set good examples for fighting production and sales of fake cigarettes for other regions on the mainland and help promote similar work across China.
Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, has become one of the major counterfeit cigarette production bases on the mainland, said Wei.
The fake cigarettes, tobacco and production machines, that have been annually seized in Guangdong, usually represent more than 50 per cent of the country's total counterfeits, he said.
Another major fake cigarette production base in the mainland is Fujian Province in East China.
China has handled more than 257,000 cases involving into production and sales of fake cigarettes and destroyed a total of 2,473 fake cigarette production bases between January and November.
A total of 3,889 suspects have been detained nationwide in the first 11 months.
Of them, 1,139 have been sentenced to serve jail terms.
More than 529,000 cases of fake cigarettes and 2,233 sets of production equipment and machines have been seized nationwide from January to November.
And many counterfeit cigarette sales networks or channels were also believed to have been destroyed while plenty of secret gangs have been smashed, Wei said.
He said he believes the special crackdown this year has dealt a heavy blow to counterfeit cigarette production and sales activities that used to be active on the mainland.
Feng Zhaojian, an official from Guangdong Provincial Tobacco Monopoly Administrative, said many difficulties in fighting counterfeit cigarette production in Guangdong have been experienced, since many underground plants are currently shifting from cities and towns to mountainous areas.