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Hundreds of iPhones, other Apple products seized from smugglers at Argentine border

An illicit shipment of electronics— including hundreds of iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks— worth nearly $800,000 has reportedly been confiscated by Argentinian tax authorities as smugglers continue to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities for Apple's high-priced devices.

In a separate case, a man tried to smuggle 94 iPhones from Hong Kong to mainland China under his clothes.

In a separate case, a man tried to smuggle 94 iPhones from Hong Kong to mainland China under his clothes.


Approximately 260 iPhones, 10 iPads, and 60 MacBooks were among the more than 500 Apple products seized by officers from Argentina's Federal Administration of Public Revenue, according to AFP. It's unclear which products constituted the remainder.

The relatively high cost of Apple's devices combined with the company's limited worldwide distribution network— Apple retail stores operate in just 16 countries —provides lucrative arbitrage opportunities for smugglers. Devices purchased legally in a more affordable jurisdiction can be resold, often for a huge profit, in places with higher import duties or limited points of purchase.

Hong Kong is the canonical example of such activity, given its low-tax regime and proximity to the booming mainland China market. Smugglers line up to purchase new Apple products in Hong Kong and sneak them over the border to avoid China's hefty import and luxury taxes.

Earlier this year, a man was arrested at the Hong Kong border while attempting to smuggle 94 iPhones into mainland China by taping them to his body. Border guards were alerted after the man exhibited a "weird walking posture" while approaching the checkpoint.