Chip shortage sees smugglers cling-filming CPUs to their bodies, over $4M of parts seized

Chip shortage sees smugglers cling-filming CPUs to their bodies, over $4M of parts seized

The smaller the chips become, the more cavities they'll fit into.


Chip shortage sees smugglers cling-filming CPUs to their bodies, over $4M of parts seized - image1
(Image credit: Wikipedia)

In a reᴄᴇɴᴛ trᴇɴᴅ, bᴏʀder smugglers ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴛᴜʀɴed ꜰʀᴏᴍ tʜᴇir ᴜsual tricks ᴏꜰ smugglɪɴg mobile phᴏɴes, ᴀɴd traɪɴed tʜᴇir ᴇʏᴇs ᴏɴ PC pᴀʀᴛs. In fᴀᴄᴛ, ʟᴏɴɢ-haul ᴅʀɪᴠᴇrs ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴇᴠᴇɴ ʙᴇen sᴘᴏᴛted strappɪɴg CPUs ᴛᴏ tʜᴇir boᴅɪᴇs, ɪɴ ᴏʀder ᴛᴏ smuggle tʜᴇm aᴄʀᴏss bᴏʀders. Tʜɪs ɪs tʜᴇ ʟᴇᴠᴇʟ ᴏꜰ desperᴀᴛiᴏɴ rᴇᴀᴄʜed ᴀs chip shᴏʀtᴀɢᴇs ᴄᴏɴᴛɪɴᴜᴇ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ a feᴀᴛure ᴏꜰ tʜᴇ cᴏɴtempᴏʀary ɪɴdᴜsᴛʀʏ.

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Chip shortage sees smugglers cling-filming CPUs to their bodies, over $4M of parts seized - image2

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In one instance, the Customs Department of Hong Kong had intercepted two drivers crossing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, on Jun 16. The driver and co-driver had been acting rather suspiciously, and were soon found to be literally up to their elbows in tech.

The two were attempting to smuggle a total of 256 Intel Core i7 10700 and Core i9 10900K CPUs across the border, having strapped the high-end processors all over their bodies with cling-film, says HKPC.

Yet another attempt of CPU smuggling, thought to be related to the first, was thwarted just ten days later on the same crossing. This time, 52 Intel chips were spotted by the scanners, stuffed between the front seats. The total worth of the related instances is estimated at around $128,700.

And just a few days ago, Hong Kong Customs reported the seizure of a "batch of suspected smuggled goods at Lok Ma Chau Control Point." The haul included more than 2,200 CPUs, over 1,000 RAM sticks, 630-ish smartphones… oh, and some makeup for good measure. All this gear, just muddled up in crates filled with random electronic parts. The worth of which was chalked up at around $4 million.

With PC part prices moving ever-skyward, and components being so difficult to get hold of, it's likely this computer hardware smuggling trend will continue. But with a "maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years," as noted by Hong Kong Customs, it's no wonder these dudes looked so nervous.

I was a little disappointed to learn that neither of the more recent busts involved people strapping computer parts to their bodies, but you can't have everything.

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