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Customs Seize Huge Quantities of Illegal Booze and Smokes

Photo: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix. Video: Courtesy of Tax and Customs Board

In April, Tax and Customs Board inspectors seized over 8 million illegal cigarettes, a new monthly record, as well as the equivalent of 16,494 liters of pure alcohol – more than their entire haul for 2010.

Customs officials carried out 1,539 checks at border points over the course of the month, 464 of which turned up illegal goods. A further 1,401 inspections along the highways found 40 violations, a May 12 statement by the Tax and Customs Board said.

In most of the cases, the goods were lacking the proper excise stamps, meaning no duties had been paid on them.

The largest single bust for the month happened on April 21 in Ülenurme municipality near Tartu, where 540,180 cigarettes with Russian tax stamps were discovered.

Meanwhile the Institute of Economic Research is reporting that, while overall alcohol consumption in the country is decreasing, the portion of illegal alcohol consumed is on the rise.

A study by the institute found that nearly one in ten people in the country have had illegal alcohol, either tipple that was lacking excise payment or moonshine.

"The illegal alcohol is mainly coming in from Russia, and to a lesser extent from Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus," the institute's analyst Elmar Erro was quoted by ETV as saying.

Erro also noted that there has been a significant rise in the practice of making wine and beer at home, with hobby kits for this purpose in high demand.


Steve Roman

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