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Chinese customs officers were able to arrest 26 people suspected of using drones to drop iPhones worth millions of dollars into the country.

The suspects were allegedly flying two 660-foot cables by drones from Hong Kong to Shenzhen – cables that would have lifted the iPhones worth $79.6 million and bringing them to the mainland. Here, the phones could have been sold on the black market for a tidy sum.

According to the Legal Daily, this was the first time smugglers tried using drones to bring in phones illegally. The operation would have taken place in the overnight hours. The smugglers would put 10 iPhones in a small bag and put them on the drones. The drones would fly to the mainland from Hong Kong in just seconds. Reports suggest the smugglers could get in 15,000 iPhones in a single night.

It’s not uncommon for high-priced and valued products, such as jewelry, electronics and luxury items, to be smuggled into the country. The Chinese government is working hard to tackle the practice – to reduce the number of smuggled items getting into the country and sold on the black market.

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Smugglers will either steal items or purchase them at a lower rate and sell them for more in China. They often keep their prices lower than the going rate for people who buy legitimate products. Smugglers often make a good profit while ensuring Chinese consumers can attain the real product at a lower price.

Although the officials were able to stop the drone attempt to drop these iPhones into the country, they said smuggling is and will still be an issue. However, customs officers will use an array of equipment to stop smugglers’ attempts.

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