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Society

Greek Cops Smoke Out Bootleg Cigarette Ring,1 Million Butts

ATHENS – The Greek police financial crimes unit is continuing to confiscate more cigarettes smuggled into the country, seizing a million of them in busting a sophisticated ring in the capital’s port of Piraeus.

Since November, 2021 officers have captured so many bootleg cigarettes and tobacco products it’s estimated the operations cost Greece a loss of about 3.5 million euros ($3.53 million) in customs levies and taxes, said Kathiermini.

In this raid, police said they found 13 tons of tobacco, 12 vehicles and arrested 11 suspects in the racket and that the operation made and packaged cigarettes and other products for sale on the black market in Greece and abroad.

Two of those taken into custoday are Greek Of the 11 suspects, two are Greek nationals and are believed to have run the plant themselves or possibly for someone else, the report also said.

It’s still essentially been  a losing effort however despite the dents that even relentless pursuit of smugglers and operators has tried to curtail as the illicit goods aren’t yet being stopped.

The seemingly endless attempt to keep smuggled cigarettes out of Greece has resulted in customs officials in December, 2021 conficating more than 60 million found hidden in six containers at the port of Piraeus.

The cargo came from China, said Kathiermini, with Piraeus the final destination. The port is run by the Chinese management company COSCO and has become a major hub in the European Union.

According to the shipping documents, the containers were carrying wooden cutlery while the companies that appeared to be importing them are based in Bulgaria and were just set up, the report said.

Greek authorities discovered 40 million cigarettes in the first four containers that arrived at Piraeus, while two more from the same shipment were unloaded in Trieste, Italy, and seized in cooperation with the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog, OLAF.

The packages are under the name Golden, which are traded only on the black market to avoid taxes and sold cheap, smuggled cigarettes sometimes even openly hawked on the streets of Athens in packages or individual butts.

The investigation started after the Coordination Business Center (SEC) received a tip, according to which four containers of smuggled cigarettes had arrived at the port, the paper said of the operation.

 

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