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Schoolchildren used to smuggle iPhones into China, report says

Chinese custom officials have found some 30 cases this year where schoolchildren were used to smuggle electronics into the country, reports the Guangzhou Daily.


Luxury goods and electronics, such as Apple's iPhone, are so desirable in underground markets in China that schoolchildren are being targeted for smuggling, according to a recent report.

Since the beginning of the year, Chinese customs officials have uncovered over 30 cases of smuggling by schoolchildren, Chinese newspaper the Guangzhou Daily reported this week. The children have had luxury goods, including iPhones, tablets, and computers, crammed into their book bags as they travel from Hong Kong to China on their way back from school, the report claimed.

It's estimated that 15,000 schoolchildren travel from their homes in mainland China to Hong Kong each day to be educated. On their way back to China at the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border crossing, smugglers target the children -- some as young as 10 years old -- and get them to put electronics in their book bags, the report claimed. Those smugglers reportedly try to trick and threaten the kids into carrying the goods across the border without any knowledge of the legal impact.

For smugglers, the opportunity to bring goods from Hong Kong into China is too lucrative to pass up. Many luxury goods are available at a much cheaper price in Hong Kong than in China. If the kids successfully get across the border, smugglers in Shenzhen can take their bags and sell the products at a significant profit.

Children aren't the only way smugglers transport items across the porous Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. Customs officials in China have reportedly discovered underground tunnels used for smuggling, and iPhones have been found crammed into beer bottles in an attempt to smuggle the smartphones across the border.

It's not clear from the report what China plans to do to cut down on schoolchildren being targeted for smuggling, but the issue appears to be running rampant along the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border. Other luxury good, including Hong Kong birds' nests desired by tourists, have also been discovered in kids' book bags, said the report.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the report. We will update this story when we have more information.

(Via WSJ)