(Photo: Europol website)
Belgium Customs seized over 57 million cigarettes and more than 42 tons of cut tobacco in August 2022 in a joint operation against illicit trade in tobacco and tobacco products. The operation was result of international cooperation among countries and support from the Europol, as reported on the Europol website.
The joint effort prevented circulation of tobacco products with a total tax value of more than EUR 32 million. Belgian Customs, local Belgian law enforcement, Belgian Federal Police and Polish Border Guard Control Service took part in the operation while Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau provided intelligence.
Searches in warehouses and a private residence discovered two full production lines for cigarettes bearing a variety of well-known brands.
The market value of the seized cigarettes amounts to EUR 73 million in the United Kingdom, which the report mentions as ‘the presumed country of distribution for the majority of the products’. Massive number of empty packages, filters, cigarette paper, glue, cardboard and packaging film, as well seven new manufacturing equipment (believed to be smuggled to start a production and packaging line) were also confiscated in the operation.