Customs officers at Siem Reap International Airport on Thursday confiscated nearly 500 undeclared iPhones worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, which were hidden inside 11 suitcases smuggled into the country by two Cambodians, an airport official said on Friday.
The iPhones—which retail locally for between $700 and $1,100 each, depending on storage capacity—had been purchased in Singapore and Hong Kong by a man and woman who landed at the Siem Reap airport on Thursday morning, according to the airport’s chief of customs and excise, Kong Phallakun.
“We confiscated 497 iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus [handsets] that were illegally imported from Hong Kong and Singapore because the owners did not pay the import tax,” he said, refusing to explain how officials at the airport came to discover the smartphones inside the suitcases.
Photographs posted on the website Fresh News service show the large, rolling suitcases neatly packed with dozens of boxed and unboxed iPhones in a variety of colors.
Mr. Phallakun identified the man as Phin Reaksmey and the woman as Ngov Thieng Hong, but said he did not know where they had been traveling from, whether they had been on the same flight or separate ones, or any other details about them.
“We did not arrest them; we just ordered them to pay the import tax and a fine,” he said, explaining that both fees would be determined by his superiors at the Finance Ministry in Phnom Penh.
“The phones are being kept at the customs and excise department at the airport,” he added.
Bou Bunnara, a spokesman for the customs department, said he knew nothing about the case save what he had read in local media reports and said the smartphone smugglers would only be prosecuted if they failed to pay the tax and fine.
“If they do not agree to pay, we will send the case to court,” he said.