OFW admits smuggling 11,000 cigarettes into HK to pay for mom’s surgery

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Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan (Photo: Google Maps)

A 50-year-old Filipino domestic worker admitted to smuggling 10,000 cigarettes into Hong Kong to help her pay for her mother’s surgery.

Resy S.A., who had worked in Hong Kong for 25 years, pleaded guilty on May 16 to the charge of possessing dutiable goods but avoided prison after her employer of 20 years personally vouched for her good character in court. The employer also paid for her $10,000 bail.

“She is sincerely remorseful. She did not understand what she was doing. She won’t be able to work again in Hong Kong,” Resy’s lawyer said.

The prosecution said the helper was arrested on May 1 at the Customs Arrival Hall of the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal after a customs officer became suspicious. Resy was then carrying a green nylon bag, a blue suitcase, and a green backpack.

When the customs officers checked her belongings, they found a total of 11,000 sticks of cigarettes packed in 55 cartons which Resy did not declare to Customs, cheating HK of $20,000 in taxes.

Resy’s lawyer said another Filipino woman had enticed her to bring in the cigarettes from Macau and that she did not know that she had to pay taxes for them.

The defendant was allegedly offered $1,500 but had to pay for the ferry fare to and from Macau.

Resy was supposed to meet the woman again at Chater Road in Central, where the cigarettes were to be sold, after she arrived in Hong Kong with the contraband.

Resy agreed to join the customs officers in a “controlled delivery” operation to entrap the woman. But when they got to Central, the woman was no longer there.

Resy told the police that she got the cigarettes from a Filipino, identified only as “kuya,” whom she met at the ferry terminal when she arrived in Macau. The man turned over the contraband to her and she returned to Hong Kong.

“(Resy’s) mom has been in poor health and is 80 years old. She had a cataract causing severe headaches and so she had an operation,” Resy’s lawyer said, adding that the surgery cost $3,000.

Although she had been in Hong Kong for over two decades, Resy had no savings because up to now, she was still supporting her four siblings and their eight children, the lawyer said.

However, her long-time female employer in Wan Chai continued to support her despite her arrest. She personally appeared in court to vouch for Resy’s good character.

Resy ward, who is now a grown up, also wrote the court and said that she was “a simple character who could be easily taken advantaged of.” Eastern Courts Principal Magistrate Peter Law was convinced.

“According to this letter, you worked for the same family for a long time with honesty and good temper,” he said.

The judge ordered her jailed for two weeks but suspended it for one year, which means if she does not commit any crime in the next 12 months, she will not go to prison. Resy was also ordered to pay a fine of $500 but this would be deducted from the $10,000 bail money her employer paid.

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