When it comes to purchasing hardware, the price can vary significantly depending on the country. In the United States, CPU, GPU, and other components are often cheaper due to numerous offers. In countries like Hong Kong, where taxes are lower, one can find even cheaper prices. As a result, Chinese customs officials often apprehend travelers attempting to smuggle hardware into the country. On this occasion, customs found a total of 118 CPUs hidden in the soles of shoes.
Customs typically intercept illegal substances, products that are considered prohibited in the arriving country, and dangerous weapons like knives or firearms. While drugs and weapons are usually the main focus and most common incidents, customs officers have encountered all sorts of attempted smuggling. In China, there is a trend of travelers trying to smuggle hardware into the country to sell it at a higher price.
Chinese customs discovered 4,240 microSD cards hidden in shoes. Increasingly elaborate methods are being used to hide PC components for smuggling, such as the 70 GPUs that were discovered hidden among hundreds of lobsters. Another smuggler had 306 CPUs concealed in a waistband wrapped around their abdomen, which was later repeated by others. Additionally, Chinese customs found 84 SSDs hidden in an electric scooter and 780 Intel CPUs inside a motor.
Shoes seem to be a new trend for concealing hardware, as another smuggler was caught attempting to go unnoticed. Unfortunately for them, they were discovered, and officials found 12 packages containing processors wrapped in green plastic. In total, Chinese customs counted 118 Intel CPUs in the shoes.
The specific model of the CPUs has not been mentioned, and the photos don’t provide enough details even when zoomed in. They are likely Intel Core i3 or i5 CPUs, as these are the most common models seen in these types of customs cases. Smugglers usually buy hardware in Hong Kong, where taxes are lower, and then bring it to China, where the demand is higher due to a 13% tax on such products. If they manage to pass unnoticed, they can bring the hardware into the country without declaring it. However, if caught, they lose everything.