Police smash extensive illegal tobacco racket

Police smash extensive illegal tobacco racket

Police in Thessaloniki say they have broken up a large illegal tobacco racket believed to have cost the state up to 150 million euros in lost taxes and customs tariffs.

A police investigation that began last year led to the discovery of 70 tons of illegal tobacco and 177 million cigarettes.

Officers also found machinery used for the assembly and packaging of cigarettes at two locations used as factories for the operation.

During their raids police further seized 32 trucks, 15 cars, 165 license plates, 103 stamps, fake documents, electronic devices and mobile phones.

The probe additionally uncovered a number of warehouses being used by the racket in various locations around western Attica.

According to the investigation, the racket employed 40 people and was led by a 49-year-old ethnic Greek from Kazakhstan. Three other suspects, including his 25-year-old son, are believed to be his close associates.

The Greek Police’s general inspector for northern Greece, Christos Dragatakis, said on Thursday that the racket has been operating for at least five years, selling illegal cigarettes and other tobacco products on the black market in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Spain, the UK and other parts of Europe.

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