A trial held on Wednesday saw 25 persons face allegations of selling 162,000 smuggled iPhones and iPads worth 500 million yuan (US$80.25 million) to online gadget store Taobao.com.
The criminal prosecution held in Shenzhen involved members of five Chinese smuggling gangs accused of offering the Apple devices to Lanyou Numeral, the one-time top seller of its kind in China’s most popular online shopping platform, said the Chinese prosecutors. Lanyou Numeral closed in April.
According to Shanghai Daily, the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court hearing had the suspects face tax evasion charges of up to 54.87 million yuan (US$8.71 million).
The Southern Metropolis Daily reported that most of the suspects are housewives who are aided and abetted to play as Hong Kong tourists and purchase iPhones in volumes to sell in Mainland China. The suspects received 20 to 30 yuan ($3 to $5) in commission for each phone.
Shenzhen Customs copped 104 suspects in April but only 25 went to trial on Wednesday. Most of the suspects admitted and requested for a lenient sentence, claiming they thought it was only a part-time job. The People’s Court has yet to issue its verdicts and deliver a ruling for the other suspects.
In China, smugglers face a maximum sentence of life in prison, while those involved in firearm or drug smuggling may receive a death sentence.