China Coast Guard officers have detained 3,587 people on suspicion of smuggling refined oil and cracked more than 800 such cases since last year, according to the Coast Guard on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, they have broken up 18 major smuggling operations involving oil and confiscated 700,000 metric tons of refined petroleum products. The amount of money involved was put at 3.3 billion yuan ($483 million).
According to the China Coast Guard, it has carried out several campaigns since 2017 to target the smuggling of refined oil, during which it sent out more than 15,000 naval patrols and uncovered 856 cases.
"Trafficking oil products seriously violates the normal market order and has a serious impact on the fair trade of oil products, so we will seriously fight such crimes and punish the traffickers," according to a statement by China Coast Guard on Tuesday.
In recent days, a growing number of cases involving the smuggling of refined oil have occurred nationwide due to the temptation of huge profits and loopholes in supervision, which have aroused high attention from the public and media.
According to the Coast Guard, most oil smuggling cases are organized crimes, and traffickers tend to be professional and intelligent. The gang members assume different tasks, including deceiving customs officers, transporting the oil and seeking clients, forming a closely held chain of interest.
In August last year, the coastal police in Fujian province arrested 99 suspects for alleged smuggling refined oil and destroyed two underground oil depots.
Meanwhile, they confiscated 180,000 tons of oil products and seized 17 vessels and 10 oil tankers. The amount of money involved reached 900 million yuan.
In July this year, the Coast Guard in Jiangsu province captured 38 suspects and seized five vessels involved in the case. Jiangsu coastal police also seized 100,000 tons of refined oil valued at 650 million yuan.
The China Coast Guard said it will maintain pressure against such crimes and pay attention to uncovering some major and individual cases.
Moreover, police officers will step up patrols - especially in some key sea areas and important time periods - to smash major criminal gangs, maintain order at sea and safeguard social security and stability.