• May 28, 2024

Illicit Cigarettes Seized Throughout Europe

 Illicit Cigarettes Seized Throughout Europe
Photo: Lithuania Customs

European law enforcement authorities seized 67 million cigarettes and 2.6 tons of tobacco worth €35.82 million ($43.62 million) last month, according to Europol. They arrested 17 suspects.

The most significant seizures of the illegally traded cigarettes were made in Lithuania (28.75 million), the U.K. (9 million), Poland (6 million), Ireland (3.5 million), Romania (2.2 million), Sweden (500,000), Latvia (740,000) and Croatia (150,000). Eighty-eight percent of the cigarettes seized were produced in Belarus.

Supported by Europol and the European Anti-Fraud Office, the joint operation took place Nov. 2-13, 2020. Led by the customs departments of Lithuania and the U.K., the operation was facilitated by intelligence analysis of excise duty suspension abuse. The fraud scheme consisted of illegally diverting cigarettes from EU internal and external transit customs procedures to the black market without paying millions in taxes.