illegal cigarettes

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) on Monday announced the arrest of nine people in Lithuania for the illegal smuggling of cigarettes after an extensive investigation that resulted in the seizure of millions of cigarrettes.

The criminal investigation, which had been coordinating for over a year, involving law enforcement authorities in Lithuania, Poland and Germany, resulted in the seizure of almost 70 million cigarettes, preventing estimated losses of €6 million ($8.67 million) to the European taxpayer.

Lithuanian courts authorized for the nine suspects to remain under custody for three months in order to carry out further investigations into the incident and illegal operations. All of the cigarettes seized in this investigation were smuggled from Russia and Ukraine.

"This is a great result and I would like to congratulate the investigation team, particularly the Lithuanian Customs who initiated this investigation," said Giovanni Kessler, Director General of OLAF. "Coordinated international cooperation is the key to success, as this case clearly demonstrates. Significant financial losses have been prevented and OLAF will continue to support this investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice."

Financial losses to the EU and Member States' budgets as a result of cigarette smuggling are estimated to be €10 billion ($14.46 billion) a year.
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