Photo by Liu Youzhi/Southern Metropolis Daily

26 people accused of smuggling iPhones has been arrested by authorities whose range of operation covers both Hong Kong and the Shenzhen in mainland China.

The criminals, according to report, made use of aerial drones which connected two 660-foot cables which facilitated an illicit trade of as many as 15,000 iPhones typically happening at night.

Smuggling had always been a problem in China and is something ongoing for years. But this latest uncover report is the newest escalation in the illegal operation which was also confirmed by the Chinese government-owned, Legal Daily, Reuters reported.

In response to the suspicion of illegal activities, authorities from both Hong Kong and Shenzhen went on a joint anti-smuggling operation last February which resulted in the arrest of the perpetrators.

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It was not immediately clear which aerial drones were used in the operation but rumors from Drone Life suggests that it could be a DJI Phantom 4 as derived from the images shown by the Chinese media. Suspicion, however, is strong that the drone may have originated from Shenzhen which is said to be a tech hub and where a DJI manufacturing plant is located.

Operating in the dark, the smugglers connect the two cables between two high-rise buildings where a package containing 10 iPhones is transported but could manage a total of 15,000 devices across the span of the night. With the illegal activity going on for at least 6 months, the smugglers were able to send across 500 million yuan ($79.8 million) worth of refurbished iPhones.

Due to the expensiveness of iPhones as influenced by the taxes and fees imposed in China, there is a thriving business in the black market which pushes the demand for illegal trades, such as this recently-revealed illicit operation.

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