WTF?! You know there’s a shortage of something when smugglers start cling-filming it to their bodies. It seems the global chip crisis and resulting availability issues affecting PC hardware have led to drivers wrapping themselves in CPUs to get the goods across borders unnoticed—at least they weren’t storing them in the more traditional smuggling cavity.
On June 16, Hong Kong customs officials noticed the driver and co-driver of a truck crossing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge were acting suspiciously while their vehicle was being searched. Nothing unusual was found, but officers discovered something amiss when frisking the driver.
Image credit: HKEPC
It transpired that the pair had attached 256 Intel Core i7-10700 and Core i9-10900K processors, worth 800,000 yuan or $123,000, to their calves and torsos using cling film, according to Hong Kong site HKEPC.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. PC Gamer writes that another smuggling attempt thought to be related to the first took place ten days later on the same crossing. This time, 52 Intel chips were discovered stuffed in between the driver and front passenger’s seat.
Smugglers tried again this week, albeit without the cling film. Hong Kong customs writes that it seized 2,200 CPUs and 1,000 RAM modules from a container truck (top image). It also contained 630 smartphones and, strangely, 70 cosmetic items. The total market value of the unmanifested cargo was around $4 million. Customs warned that these crimes could result in a “maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.”
Although we are seeing pricing and availability of hardware improve, especially in China, where graphics cards are being sold in bulk by ex-miners, there’s still plenty of demand and money to be made by unscrupulous types. Not sure it’s worth seven years behind bars, though.