Saturday, April 2, 2022

Bootleg cigarettes a global problem

Lincolnshire cops visited a store after suspicions it was selling illicit cigarettes and booze. A cop shows how a remote control lowers a ceiling light to reveal shelves packed with counterfeit cigarettes. 11 gangsters, part of an Armenian organized crime group involved in the large scale import and distribution of cigarettes were recently arrested by French Customs. 2.5 tonnes of counterfeit cigarettes were seized, worth about €1.250m in France, with €100k in cash and €150k in winning lottery tickets bought to launder profits. French cops said the counterfeit cigarettes were imported from European countries, before being stored in warehouses and then sold on the black market in French cities. An illegal cigarette factory was shut down by Belgian Customs. The factory was located in Arlon, Belgium and sent product across Europe.
A study by KPMG, commissioned by tobacco giant Philip Morris, showed consumption of illicit cigarettes in the EU was about 8% of total use in 2019, but this was still equivalent to nearly 39 billion cigarettes and €9.5bn in lost government revenue.
Excise fraud is currently an EU law enforcement priority.