Contraband smokes seized

Financial crimes squad (SDOE) officers in northern Greece have broken an international gang that smuggled cigarettes to the UK and Scandinavia inside furniture shipments, officials said yesterday, announcing the seizure of nearly half a million packs of contraband cigarettes in a Thessaloniki warehouse. SDOE officials said 434,470 packs of British cigarettes were discovered during a raid that followed several months’ surveillance of the warehouse at Kalohori. Thousands of cartons of cigarettes had been hidden inside 128 chests of drawers – custom-built with drawers that left plenty of space behind for cigarettes – and 250 boxes containing office chairs and tables. The cigarettes had been exported from the UK through Cyprus or Egypt to Bulgaria, before being taken to Thessaloniki. Their final destination would have been countries with high tobacco taxes such as the UK and Scandinavian states. Only one person has been arrested so far – Georgian truckdriver Georgy Kaftaradzhe, who was caught in Italy with a load of contraband cigarettes – while an arrest warrant has been issued against Thessaloniki resident Petros Anastassiadis, 40.

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