Illegal tobacco trade halted after international operation
Authorities from seven countries, with the active support of Eurojust, Europol and the European anti-fraud office OLAF, have dismantled an international organised crime group (OCG) which was involved in the large scale illegal trade of tobacco. During an action day, coordinated at Eurojust, 18 persons from different nationalities have been arrested, who are suspected of money laundering and the illegal trade and storage of around 670.000 kilos of tobacco. Three suspects from Italy will be heard. The illegal trade has led to a loss of customs and excise duties for the Dutch fiscal authorities of approximately 70 million Euro. A total of 29 searches have taken place in Italy, Poland, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, mainly in the south eastern province of Limburg. Authorities from Romania and Cyprus have contributed actively to the operation.
Photo © FIOD
The criminal organisation allegedly bought tobacco in Italy, which was then processed and sold to traders for the use in illegal cigarette factories. The criminals played a role as well in the brokerage of illegally produced cigarettes and bought, sold and repaired machinery for cigarette production. As a result of international cooperation, since last year already illegal cigarette factories have been dismantled in Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, whose operators had close links to the criminals who have now been arrested.
Eurojust held a coordination meeting and set up a coordination centre during the action day and provided assistance with the issuing of European Investigation Orders (EIOs) and European Arrest Warrants (EAWs).
The operation was based on an analysis of a special operational taskforce set up in February 2018 between Europol, the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) and Dutch fiscal police FIOD and on an investigation conducted by OLAF in other EU Member States where the same criminal organisation was involved . The operation was one of the first cases which forms a vital part of the ongoing intelligence picture. Regular meetings at Europol between the taskforce members helped identify numerous High Value Targets against which actions were taken in the framework of this operation.
Over 250 officers of police, fiscal police and customs have been deployed during the action day in the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland and Belgium.
For further information:
Ton van Lierop
00 31 70 412 5518
Mobile: 00 31 6 27194773
For all Eurojust press releases, please see www.eurojust.europa.eu (Press centre) .
If you would like to have Eurojust press releases delivered electronically to your inbox, please complete and submit this subscription form.
Latest News from
Clean mobility: EC welcomes agreement on tyre labelling to save energy14/11/2019 15:10:00
A political agreement on a European tyre labelling has been reached between the European Parliament, the Council and the EC. The new rules improve and strengthen EU tyre labels enabling European consumers to make better choices and bringing energy savings equivalent to taking 4m cars off EU roads every year.
Opening ceremony of the 2019/2020 academic year at the College of Europe14/11/2019 13:20:00
Keynote speech given yesterday by President Donald Tusk
Wolfgang Schäuble: “Without European unification, there would be no German unity”14/11/2019 12:10:00
EP President David Sassoli and President of the German Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble commemorated the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989.
Poultry welfare at slaughter: hazards identified, measures proposed14/11/2019 11:10:00
EFSA has proposed measures to address the animal welfare hazards most commonly observed during the slaughter of poultry for food production and disease control.
Brexit: Citizens' rights remain a key priority for MEPs13/11/2019 13:10:00
The Brexit Steering Group met on Tuesday 12 November with several committees to look at the part of the Withdrawal Agreement on citizens' rights.
Defence cooperation: Council launches 13 new PESCO projects13/11/2019 11:20:00
Five of the new projects focus on training, covering areas such as cyber, diving, tactical, medical as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRND) training. Other projects focus on enhancing EU collaborative actions as well as on capability development on sea, air and space.
International trends in central bank independence: the ECB’s perspective12/11/2019 15:10:00
Remarks by Yves Mersch, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB and Vice-Chair of the Supervisory Board of the ECB, Roundtable Discussion on Central Bank Independence.
A tale of two money markets: fragmentation or concentration12/11/2019 14:10:00
Speech by Benoît Cœuré, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, at the ECB workshop on money markets, monetary policy implementation and central bank balance sheets.
Turkey's illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean12/11/2019 12:05:00
The Council has adopted a framework for restrictive measures in response to Turkey's unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. The framework will make it possible to sanction individuals or entities responsible for or involved in unauthorised drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Vaccine against Ebola: EC grants first-ever market authorisation12/11/2019 11:20:00
The EC has adopted the decision granting marketing authorisation to the company Merck Sharp & Dohme B.V. for a vaccine against Ebola. This vaccine, called Ervebo, had been in development since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. It is already used, as part of a specific protocol, to protect people at risk of infection, such as healthcare workers or people who have been exposed to infected persons.