In the latest installment of hardware smuggling busts by Chinese customs, authorities have arrested a hardware trafficker that tried to sneak 420 M.2 SSDs into China. Customs estimated the seized SSDs are worth around HK$258,000 or $32,984.94. Perhaps some of those drives are among the best SSDs.
Chinese news outlet HKEPC first spotted the story and reported that the smuggler tried to slip the illicit goods from Macau to Zhuhai through the Gongbei Port. Given the proximity between Macau and Zhuhai, the passage is one of the most popular trafficking routes for mules. It wasn’t long ago that a woman hid more than 200 Alder Lake chips inside her fake silicone belly, or another man tried to stroll into China with 160 Intel processors taped to his body.
Normally, traffickers try to smuggle high-value goods, such as processors or graphics cards. A recent attempt to cancel 70 graphics cards among 617 pounds of live lobster comes to mind. On the contrary, this SSD smuggler opted to sneak in lower-value hardware instead. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen M.2 SSDs transported into China. A recent bust from this year detained a man that hid 84 SSDs inside his scooter. M.2 SSDs still contain metallic parts, so it’s close to impossible to get past metal detectors without raising the alarm with the metal detectors.
Instead of hiding the SSDs inside a package, the perpetrator opted to tape the drives around his body for a bigger haul. The seized bounty amounted to 420 M.2 drives, equal to a combined value of approximately $32,984.94. At $78.53 a piece, the offender could be smuggling 1TB or 2TB PCIe 4.0 drives.
For that matter, smuggling hardware from Macau or Hong Kong bypasses the customs duties that the Chinese government applies to the goods. As a result, the individuals who hire the smugglers see greater profit margins when they resell on platforms such as Goofish.
There’s a big grey market in mainland China for consumer electronic devices, including computer hardware. Therefore, the smuggling is unlikely to stop. On the other hand, smugglers are just thinking up more creative methods to get goods into mainland China.