The arrests came Friday and Saturday after an emergency two-can limit on exports of milk formula was made a permanent law in Hong Kong Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The emergency provision was put into effect in February.
Lai Tung-Kwok, the secretary for security in Hong Kong, was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying that 26 Hong Kong residents, 18 mainlanders and one foreign passport holder were arrested at border crossings. Customs officials also seized 115 cans of milk powder, which has an estimated street value of $4,500.
Most of the alleged smugglers were stopped at vehicle-only checkpoints trying to exit Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's regulation on the exporting of powdered milk came after fears arose baby formula produced in mainland China was being tainted with industrial chemicals.
Anyone convicted of exporting more than two cans of powdered milk out of Hong Kong faces fines as high as $64,500 and two years in prison.