Tax and Customs Board destroy 10 million counterfeit cigarettes

Destroyed counterfeit cigarettes.
Destroyed counterfeit cigarettes. Source: ERR

Ten million counterfeit cigarettes shipped from Lebanon were destroyed by the Tax and Customs Board, a record number in recent years, on Tuesday.

A container of 10 million cigarettes was discovered by Estonian customs after a hint sent by German colleagues, "Aktuaalne kaamera"(AK) reported.

For two months, customs officials kept an eye on the container in the harbor, and as no one collected the shipment during that time, they contacted the owner of cigarette brand Prince. The analysis commissioned by the owner in London produced an unexpected result. The cigarettes were not only smuggled, but also counterfeit.

Voldemar Linno, head of surveillance at the MTA Customs Department said: "It is a rare occurrence because it is a counterfeit product. Usually, to put it mildly, honest goods made in official factories are brought through."

He added that, as a general rule, cigarettes discovered by Estonian customs have either a Russian or a Turkish tax mark, and that this shipment had no tax mark.

The quality of the destroyed cigarettes is unknown to customs, but according to a local worker, it is certainly better than other Russian brands which are counterfeited. The smell of crushing those cigrattes took people's breath away, but the smell of honeycomb floated around the factory during the crushing of the cigarettes from Lebanon.

"The final destination is a Russian individual, which is really rare. In fact, such quantities and such goods do not pass from individual to individual, but only move between companies and had to go to Russia," Linno explained.

The journey of the counterfeit cigarettes to Estonia is also unusual, as large quantities of counterfeit cigarettes are usually shipped over land.

Linno said this has been one of the biggest finds in recent years.

It took an entire business day to crush the 10 million cigarettes, AK reported.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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