Po­lice smash ex­ten­sive il­le­gal to­bacco racket

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

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 49year-old eth­nic Greek from Kaza­khstan. Three other sus­pects, in­clud­ing his 25-yearold son, are be­lieved to be his close as­so­ciates.

The Greek Po­lice’s gen­eral in­spec­tor for north­ern Greece, Chris­tos Dra­gatakis, said yes­ter­day 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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