There's always an opportunity for chaos if you look hard enough. One Chinese trafficker had the brilliant idea to smuggle PC hardware across the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau bridge border amidst the turmoil of category 4 Typhoon Saola that's affecting the region. He was caught possessing 1,500 processors, 1,470 memory modules, 30 graphics cards, and over 40,000 NAND flash; undoubtedly, some confiscated hardware is among the best CPUs, graphics cards, and RAM.
In the early morning of September 1, the border authorities pulled over a black Audi SUV suspected of smuggling. The perpetrator had concealed the contraband hardware inside a hidden section near the vehicle's motor area and undercarriage. The operation represents one of the biggest smuggling busts of all time, second to only an arrest from 2021 that hauled in $4 million worth of goods.
There are probably bigger heists that have gotten through customs since we only hear about the successful busts. Smuggling PC hardware from Macau into Mainland China has become a profitable business. For every one smuggler that is busted, probably four slips past the border inspection triumphantly.
On this occasion, the customs officers seized 1,500 processors, 1,470 memory modules, 30 graphics cards, and over 40,000 NAND flash chips. The goods were neatly packaged, so we couldn't get a closer look at the hardware. The customs authorities didn't share the market value for the loot. But if we had to guess, the figure probably spans half a million to a million dollars since we doubt the smuggler is trying to sneak Pentium or Celeron chips into China.
According to the Chinse regulations (via HKEPC), the customs authorities will offload the smuggled hardware in a public auction. It's the usual fashion of how customs deal with confiscated goods. Instead of destroying them to increase electronic waste, they're auctioned off to the public. The proceeds from the auctions go to the state treasury.
Graphics cards were a popular commodity during the shortage. However, nowadays, smugglers prefer smaller components, like processors or M.2 SSDs, that don't take up as much space as a graphics card. They are easier to hide, too, since you can tape them to your body or legs, which are the usual methods to smuggle stuff into China.