Guangdong police have vowed to continue to advance cooperation and exchanges with counterparts from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to intensify efforts to crack down on illegal border crossing and smuggling.
The move aims to ensure safe waters at the mouth of the Pearl River to better serve the region's economic and trade activities, according to Lin Weixiong, deputy director-general of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Public Security, on Thursday.
Lin made his remarks at a news conference in the Guangdong capital, noting police across the province had detained 1,262 suspects, plus another 4,463 stowaways, after cracking 378 cases involving illegal border crossing in the first half of the year.
The crackdown launched by Guangdong police and their Hong Kong counterparts has dealt a heavy blow to illegal crossings in the waters of Guangdong and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
Some criminal gangs that used to be active in the province have been busted, he said.
"Meanwhile, the crackdown on illegal border-crossing has helped fill loopholes in pandemic prevention and control and built a strong protective screen against imported COVID-19 cases in the province," he said.
Previously, some people who snuck into the mainland via Guangdong, known as the southern gateway of the country, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, putting pressure on the mainland in its fight against the pandemic.
Lin hinted more joint operations with Hong Kong and Macao will continue to be rolled out, with priority given in the coming months to busting criminal gangs that have long been active in the region.
Liu Jinhui, deputy director of the Guangdong Coast Guard, said Guangdong police and their Hong Kong and Macao counterparts have launched more than 30 joint patrols in the waters of the three regions since the beginning of the year, busting a number of criminal gangs that were active in organizing illegal crossings.
"The joint patrols have effectively deterred illegal border crossings and related illegal cross-border activity in the three regions," he said.
Authorities said Guangdong has a long coastline and has been one of the main battlefields in the country's fight against illegal border crossings and smuggling.
In a special operation launched on June 1, Shenzhen police detained eight suspects after intercepting a smuggling ship off the coast of the city.
Police in Yangjiang in western Guangdong also detained 148 suspected gang members and stowaways after intercepting a similar case in its waters at the end of May.
The suspects included a Hong Kong ship captain and seven mainland stowaways.
To fight against illegal border crossing, Liu Guoqiang, director of the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau with the Guangdong Public Security Department, urged locals to actively tip-off police.
Rewards for tips about illegal border crossing and smuggling cases have been raised from 200,000 yuan ($31,000) to 500,000 yuan, Liu said.
According to Liu, Guangdong police have received more than 530 tips from locals since the beginning of the year, resulting in the arrests of more than 1,400 suspects.