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Rolex smuggler fined $5,000

A Vancouver woman was fined $5,000 in Richmond provincial court last week, for possessing five unlawfully imported watches following a trip she made late last year to China.

Yan Tao Zhao returned to Canada through Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 22, 2011 following a trip to China and declared $500 worth of clothing on her declaration form.

Zhao was referred for a further examination and that's when a CBSA officer found two empty Rolex watch boxes in her purse.

She claimed that she didn't have the watches that came with the boxes, but upon checking her baggage, Canada Border Services officers found four Rolex watches concealed within a black bag and wrapped in a coat, and a fifth Rolex watch around her wrist, worth a total of more than $50,000.

Aside from he $5,000 fine, Zhao will have to pay more than $15,000 for the release of the watches.

"If the true value of the watches was declared initially, Ms. Zhao would have paid $8,955.65 in duties and taxes, rather than over $20,000 as a result of the fine and penalty," Canada Border Services spokesperson Stefanie Wudel wrote in an e-mail.

So far this year, Canada Border Services have made 171 seizures of jewellery and watches, worth more than $1.7 million.

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