Polish Police arrest 32 in huge illegal cigarette factory raid

WARSAW, POLAND : Polish Police on Tuesday arrested 32 people after raiding a huge illegal cigarette factory near Warsaw, Poland, disrupting plans by an international criminal gang to enter the European Union (EU) market with millions of illegal cigarettes

During the operation, authorities also seized cigarette making machinery and materials, including over 50 tons of cut tobacco and a consignment of nearly 5 million cigarettes, which had already been loaded on a lorry for distribution.

The raid was the result of investigations in several countries which were coordinated by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Shortly after the illegal production facility was seized in Poland, four additional people were arrested in Germany and over 70 tons of tobacco destined for the factory were seized in Lithuania as part of the same operation.

OLAF Director-General Giovanni Kessler congratulated the Polish Police and the Customs authorities in Germany and Lithuania for their achievements in this case.

“This was an extensive criminal enterprise,” Kessler said. “The criminals could have produced around 120 million cigarettes with the tobacco which has been seized, representing potential losses to the EU taxpayer of €24 million (USD 33.4 million), and there is no doubt that further deliveries of tobacco were planned.”

Kessler went on to explain that the factory had been raided shortly after production had started, noting its considerable production capacity. “If it had continued to run,” he said, “losses to the EU and Member State budgets would potentially have been €6 million (USD 8.3 million) a week.”

An estimated 10 billion euro in taxes and duties are lost to the budgets of the EU and Member States each year as a result of cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting.

source: BNO News

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