Last weekend, employees of the Tax and Customs Board (MTA) discovered 3.16 million illegal cigarettes in the bed of a truck at the port city of Paldiski, west of Tallinn, ERR reports. The haul equated to over €400,000 in potentially lost excise duties.
Eerik Heldna, head of the MTA's customs department, said that the vehicle, registered in Lithuania, had traveled to Estonia from Latvia and was supposed to board a ship heading to Sweden on the same day. MTA officials took an x-ray of the load and discovered the contraband goods.
The MTA then carried out a full inspection of the truck and found 3.16 million Winston-brand cigarettes, which had not had the required excise duties paid on them. Had the consignment reached Estonian markets, it would have constituted €438,134 in lost excise duties.
Heldna said: "Earlier discoveries of contraband cigarettes have also shown that [contraband] cigarettes are being moved to Sweden and Western Europe via Estonia, and that is why loads arriving at the Port of Paldiski are being given increased attention."
Criminal proceedings have been initiated, led by the Northern District Prosecutor's Office.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste