A gang was caught who smuggled liquor and cigarettes purchased at domestic duty-free shops back into the country instead of taking them abroad. The authorities believe that instead of liquor, bottled water of similar weight was placed in a box and sent overseas, and the smuggled liquor was distributed on the market.

Reporter Kim Tae-won covered the story.


This is a bonded warehouse where duty-free goods destined for overseas are collected.

A man carries a box and bundles it with black cargo.

The box was supposed to contain spirits sold at domestic duty-free shops and destined for Hong Kong, but it actually contained bottled water.

Mr. A, a Chinese person, reported that he was exporting duty-free goods purchased domestically to foreign countries and then smuggled them back into the country using this method.

They worked together with Mr. B, who runs a bonded warehouse, to extract duty-free goods.

[Go Byeong-moo/Incheon District Prosecutors' Office International Crime Investigation Department: By taking advantage of the fact that exported duty-free goods cannot be shipped directly to the airport cargo terminal due to problems such as flight schedules, they have to go through an intermediate warehouse... .]

As a result of the customs investigation, it was revealed that they stole 7.7 billion won worth of goods, including 700,000 packs of duty-free cigarettes and 1,110 bottles of duty-free liquor, from 2022 to last year.

These are cigarettes that were specially produced by Mr. A and his group and exported overseas.

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They put a plastic case and cardboard inside the cigarette pack to balance the weight.

Instead of liquor and cigarettes, bottled water and cardboard went overseas.

Investigative authorities believe that it is highly likely that these stolen duty-free goods were distributed on the market through illegal distributors.

In fact, in large markets in Seoul, it is not difficult to find duty-free alcohol with unclear distribution channels.

[Alcohol seller: This revenue is 190,000 won. Official import taxes apply, and duty-free goods cost 170,000 won. You have regular customers. Only those people sell it, not everyone else.]

The prosecution arrested 4 people, including Mr. A, on charges of violating customs laws, sent 5 people to trial, and is further investigating the distribution channels.

(Video coverage: Hyeong Yun, Video editing: Eunjin Choi, Screen provided by: Incheon District Prosecutors' Office, Incheon Airport Customs)