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Chip Shortage Leads to $123,000 CPU Smuggling Bust in Hong Kong

Smuggled CPUs
(Image credit: Hong Kong Customs/HKEPC)

As reported by HKEPC, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Customs department has reported that it managed to stop two recent smuggling attempts involving Intel's 10th-gen Comet Lake processors that totaled more than $123,000 worth of chips.

These aren't isolated events, though. On July 5, Hong Kong Customs also seized as much as 2,200 CPUs, over 1,000 RAM sticks, around 630 smartphones, and, oddly enough, 70 cosmetics products. The total market value of this smuggling attempt is 4 million USD.

The first new incident occurred on June 16 when a truck driver from Guangdong and Macao was inspected by the customs officer at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. After inspection, the officer found 256 CPUs strapped to the driver’s upper ribs and calves. The CPUs in question were Intel Core i7-10700 and Core i9-10900K CPUs valued at about 800,000 Chinese Yuan (~$123,281 USD).

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Smuggled CPUs

Smuggled CPUs (Image credit: Hong Kong Customs/HKEPC)
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Smuggled CPUs

Smuggled CPUs (Image credit: Hong Kong Customs/HKEPC)

The second smuggling attempt happened on June 26 at the same location. Again, a Hong Kong customs officer inspected a passenger truck and found as many as 52 brand-new Intel processors hidden between the driver’s and front passenger's seats.

PC component shortages have proven that various parts like CPUs, GPUs, and even HDDs are sometimes difficult to source. As a result, we've witnessed huge price increases for GPUs, CPUs, and even storage components, inflating MSRPs to insane levels. Unfortunately, when something is valuable and reported far and wide, even those on the wrong side of the law will try to get a piece of the pie. Given the ongoing chip shortages, we can expect to see many more attempts like these in the future.