Memory smuggler caught with hundreds of SSD drives taped to waist

Originally published at: Memory smuggler caught with hundreds of SSD drives taped to waist | Boing Boing


This was entirely smuggling of (empty) memory hardware? Tell us that someone at least looked to see if there was any data being smuggled as well. As one could suppose with the right sort of data that might easily exceed the value of the mere hardware.

Still recalls the old (~1970s) nerd jape about getting more bandwidth (vs “latency”) with a station-wagon loaded with computer tapes going down the freeway vs most …ethernets. (unfortunately a reddit link)

Rounding off the numbers, twenty-four reels of tape at 170 megabytes each is 4080 megabytes. Three and a half hours is 210 minutes. 4080 megabytes divided by 210 works out to about 19.4 megabytes per minute, or 32.3 kilobytes per second (258.4kilobits per second) - over 100 times faster than a 2400 bps data circuit of the time.


Amazon uses container sized “external harddrives” with 100peta bytes called snowmobile to transfer large amounts of data.


Will the Yakuza be after him now?


I’m going to be thinking all day now about the potential for a Wachowski remake of Johnny Mnemonic set in the Pearl River Delta.

Unlike Johnny, I think this guy is not “a very technical boy”.


Does anyone know how the economics of these smuggling-into-china stories work?

There are definitely components that aren’t domestic, and are presumably subject to some sort of tariff that can be dodged(CPUs and GPUs almost definitely, a substantial chunk of RAM and flash); but fully assembled and populated PCBs, even if it’s a TSMC-fabbed GPU with some Samsung GDDR; or a TSMC-fabbed Phison controller with a bunch of Micron NAND, is much more likely to have undergone that stage of manufacturing in China.

Is there some sort of mechanism where the products of certain domestic manufacturing activities are treated as though the whole thing happened offshore, for tax purposes, so long as they are slated for export? Some reason why it makes more sense for people to mule stuff back over the border rather than have it fall off a truck and ‘accidentally’ be marked down as having been exported when it in fact never left?


“Never underestimate the bandwidth of a smuggler with 420 SSD sticks strapped to his gut, unless he gets caught by border guards, in which case maybe just use Dropbox or some shit, I dunno”

  • Andrew Tannembaum

Dude’s out there remembering it for us wholesale.


“… graphics cards among 617 pounds of live lobster” sounds more like David Cronenberg :lobster:


Or Stross:


The term you’re searching for is “sneakernet.”


I’m a bit confused- why is this even illegal? Is it because he’s skirting some import duties? How much could that really be? This feels like a lot of risk and trouble for what… so he can sell duty-free SSDs for 5% less than someone else in China?

This crime makes no sense to me, including why it’s a crime.


It’s an implant for my epilepsy, honest!

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Came here to say this, or see whether the shit was explained, so, thanks!


“Stand back! If I push this button, everything gets unzipped!”

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That seems to be it.

It’s straightforward evasion of customs duties.

For that matter, smuggling hardware from Macau or Hong Kong bypasses the customs duties that the Chinese government applies to the goods. As a result, the individuals who hire the smugglers see greater profit margins when they resell on platforms such as Goofish.

Different areas in China have very different tax regimes. For example Macau has no VAT and very few import taxes. But if you want to take those goods into China, you’re supposed to pay import duties.

I suspect the potential profit is a lot more than 5% but even if it’s just 5%, there are a lot of people who would be very happy with someone else running the risk for 5% gain.

And the risk may not be that great. Like all customs agencies, the Chinese make a big splash about big seizures but that tells us nothing about how many people are getting through undetected.


13% VAT according to this story.


“I can carry nearly 80 Gigs of data in my head …” :laughing:

I have more than that in my watch. I recall that 80GB seemed like a lot in 1995, but that’s always the problem with using any real world number related to tech in the near future. (Admittedly, that’s not crammed into my head, but it still feels very much “What bother?”)

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I recall raising money for the BBS I frequented to buy a 1GB drive. Wow! That thing was never going to fill up with files.

Anyway, here’s a box of 500GB SSDs I’ve imaged and prepped for deploying to the patron facing computers.

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