No more smoking: Border Guard catches group suspected of tobacco smuggling

The Polish Border Guard has arrested seven people on suspicion of being part of a gang producing and distributing tonnes of illegal cigarettes.

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Lieutenant Dagmara Bielec-Janas, spokeswoman for the Vistula Border Guard Unit said that its officers carried out raids last Saturday in the Łódzkie and Śląskie provinces in central and southern Poland, respectively.

Two Polish citizens were arrested on the A1 motorway in the Śląskie province driving a truck trailer carrying close to 19 tonnes of dried tobacco. The illegal load might have originated from South America and was intended to be sent to an illegal cigarette factory in Kutno, central Poland.

“It is here that the smuggled tobacco was used to produce illegal cigarettes, which were then to be marketed in EU countries,” Lt. Bielec-Janas added.

The spokeswoman emphasised that in addition to locating the factory, which was equipped with two complete production lines, the officers secured over 90,000 cigarettes without revenue stamps, 250 kilograms of tobacco, numerous semi-finished products and packaging for transporting ready-made cigarettes carrying the logo of a popular tobacco company.

She said that during the operation, Border Guard officers detained seven people, including three men responsible for running an organised crime group, which financed the production and distribution of the produced cigarettes. The remaining suspects are two men who were detained for smuggling and a married couple who owned the property on which the illegal cigarette factory was located.

According to investigators, the State Treasury’s losses due to unpaid taxes on illegal tobacco products are estimated at over PLN 10.5 million (EUR 2.3 million). All of the detainees will also face charges of breaking fiscal law, and face up to 10 years in prison and heavy fines.