A trial has started this week in southern China to determine the fate of a smuggling ring that brought as many as 160,000 Apple devices worth about US$80 million into the country.
Sting operations were able to catch five different smuggling rings and 104 suspects. The trial this week, which is being held in the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court, deals with only 25 of the suspects.
Apple products are much cheaper outside of mainland China, so smugglers were buying the devices elsewhere and then bringing them into the country for sale on Alibaba's Taobao online marketplace. Electronista reports that the ring was selling up to 20,000 Apple devices a month at one point. iPhones purchased in Hong Kong are popular on the mainland, as they are often sold unlocked and can be used on China Mobile's network. China Mobile doesn't officially carry the iPhone, but has many unlocked iPhones on its network.
M.I.C Gadget reported earlier this week that customs officials in Hong Kong caught smugglers attempting to bring 227 iPhone 5s, 22 iPads and a number of other products into mainland China. Those products were worth over US$129,000.