Hong Kong Customs busts Nvidia GPU smuggling operation

Alongside the current global chip shortage has come another problem that may affect the supply of graphics cards: GPU smuggling. Hong Kong Customs agents have confiscated around 300 smuggled Nvidia CMP HX crypto mining cards along with other contraband items amounting to over HK $31 million last April 2.

According to the official press release published by the Hong Kong Customs, they were able to detect a suspicious fishing vessel containing cases of “suspected smuggled goods” that was also accompanied by a speedboat. Customs immediately intercepted the convoy which forced the smugglers inside the fishing vessel to flee with the speedboat.

Only the fishing vessel was successfully intercepted and seized. Inside the fishing vessel were cases containing exotic animal products such as shark fins, dried sea cucumbers, dried fish maws, tech products including Nvidia’s new CMP crypto-mining GPUs. The seized tech products alone were valued at HK $2 million and the total value of the seized items is estimated to be around HK $31 million.

Image credit: TVB News Channel

An investigation soon followed the said seizure which resulted in the arrest of a 43-year-old man who was the owner of the fishing vessel used by the smugglers. Local authorities are currently investigating the man for his involvement in the smuggling operation.

CMP, or Crypto Mining Processor, is Nvidia’s answer to the ongoing supply shortage of GPUs and the massive rise of miners hoarding in GPUs away from the hands of the gaming community. While some members of the community only viewed this move as a mere “publicity stunt.”

Launched earlier this year, the CMPs will come in 4 versions—30HX, 40HX, 50HX and 90 HX—with 30 HX being the entry-level CMP and 90HX being the most powerful in the group. All four differ in key parameters including Ethereum Hash Rate, Rated Power, Power Connectors and Memory Size. Both 30HX and 40HX are now available in the market starting at $723.84, or roughly Php 36,192. (Read: GUIDE: Should you get a GPU upgrade right now?)

According to reports, China is one of the biggest players in the crypto mining world, particularly of Bitcoin. Its total mining output amounts to an estimated 65% of the global hash power which is according to CoinShares Research, “the highest in at least two years.”

As the value of cryptocurrencies have continued to rise, demand for crypto mining hardware has surged. Many people have turned to crypto as a possible source of easy wealth and even large corporations have bought into the hype behind Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Combined with the global chip shortage, prospective miners have become hard-pressed to get the fastest crypto-mining hardware, leading to some to turn to illegal means, such as GPU smuggling, of obtaining them.

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