Belgian authorities have seized over 57 million cigarettes and 48 tons of cut tobacco worth more than EUR 32 million in taxes, reports Europol.
The day of action was organised by Belgian Customs (Algemene Administratie van Douane en Accijnzen/Administration Générale des Douanes et Accises) with the support of Europol and involved warehouse searches and house searches and private residencies in Belgium. According to Europol, local Belgian law enforcement, the Belgian Federal Police (Federale Gerechtelijke Politie/Police Judiciaire Fédérale), the Polish Border Guard Control Service (Polska Straż Graniczna) as well as intelligence provided by the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau (Lietuvos Kriminalinės Policijos Biuras) all supported the effort which also led to the discovery of two full production lines for cigarettes of well-known name brands. The seized cigarettes have a market value of around EUR 73 million in the United Kingdom, the presumed country of distribution for the majority of the products. The officers were also able to seize a large amount of empty packages, filters, cigarette paper, glue, cardboard and packaging film and seven new machines for a new production and packaging line, reports Europol.
Furthermore, the searches uncovered clandestine production sites and warehouses with storage capacities for large quantities of tobacco products. Some sites also provided sleeping quarters for workers. During the raids, authorities seized various vehicles and arrested several persons of Lithuanian, Polish, Ukrainian and Jordanian nationality, reports Europol.