By Kenneth Lau
Mainland customs officers have arrested a young Hong Kong woman who tried to smuggle 24 ivory products in a bag while carrying a baby through Shenzhen port.
The woman, who is in her 20s, was stopped by custom officers at Huanggang Port.
She was carrying a baby and a little bag on her back when she was caught on Monday night.
It was suspected that the baby was "rented" by people who charged HK$30 an hour.
She was also to receive a transportation fee on delivery of the articles.
The group had suggested using the baby as a way to detract customs officers.
The 24 ivory products included two sections of ivory weighing four kilos and 22 bracelets weighing 2kg.
It is the largest ivory smuggling case this year.
The smuggling was reported by mainland newspapers yesterday along with Sing Tao Daily, the sister paper of The Standard.
Huanggang customs said when its officers asked to check the bag the young woman was carrying, she was reluctant, claiming there were only baby products inside.
She then said she had to go because she was in a hurry but the officers explained the immigration regulations and she reluctantly handed over the bag.
Under an X-ray examination, the officers found bracelet-like items with two sections of ivory that were confirmed upon a physical examination.
Earlier a coalition of 51 organizations sent a letter to Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing to demand the government stop issuing new import licenses and re-export licenses for ivory.
WildAid campaigner Alex Hofford said traders are turning a blind eye to where the ivory goes.
Buyers are smuggling it to feed an insatiable demand from the mainland's ivory-carving factories.
"Certainly Hong Kong is not the final destination for these raw ivory tusks from Europe," Hofford said.
"The Hong Kong government is aiding and abetting an illegal trade."