In an appearance on ETV's "Ringvaade" on Tuesday night, Estonian Tax and Customs Board (EMTA) officials Ülle Viisak and Raul Koppelmaa shared about what items aren't worth ordering as Christmas gifts as well as what substances are prohibited altogether from ordering by mail.
"The MTA checks incoming postal items from third countries that include a trademark," said Viisak, a development specialist at the customs authority. "In case the item is a counterfeit and the trademark owner has let us know, then the item is destroyed and the recipient will lose out on the item and could end up out the money as well."
Viisak had brought along and displayed a selection of items that had previously been confiscated by the MTA.
"If a good is destroyed, the particulate will be recycled," she said, confirming that confiscated items aren't merely thrown away. Goods are confiscated in accordance with trademark owner claims, she added.
"Some of them are certainly aware, and some of them are involved in sales too," the development specialist said, referring to who is ordering counterfeit goods.
She noted that it can also happen that minors believe they're ordering a trademarked item, but in reality it turns out to be a fake.
"Narcotic and psychotropic substances are prohibited from being sent by mail," confirmed Koppelmaa, director of MTA's Narcotics Division. He noted that over the past two years, massive amounts of psychotropic substances have started being ordered by mail specifically.
"One area that causes us a lot of headaches is drugs that contain psychotropic substances," he said, noting that a classic example is Xanax, a sedative.
"We're seeing that the economic downturn is forcing people to work several jobs and people are working themselves to death," Koppelmaa cited as one reason why stimulants are increasingly being ordered by mail as well.
Some people are ashamed, he said, while some find it easier to order the medications by mail. Others might find that the dose prescribed to them by their doctor isn't enough, he added, warning that psychotropic substances can lead to misuse and addiction.
MTA launches new awareness campaign
The MTA recently launched "Substances by mail? Consider the penalty," an awareness campaign aimed at reminding people that ordering prohibited substances by mail can lead to consequences including criminal investigation, according to a press release.
Among the items prohibited in Estonia from being sent or ordered by mail or courier shipments are narcotic and psychotropic substances, medicinal products containing these substances, advanced therapy medicinal products not licensed for use in Estonia and smokeless tobacco products including e-liquids, disposable e-cigarettes and snus.
To date this year, 171 criminal cases and 184 misdemeanor proceedings have been initiated by the MTA, 40 and 10 of which, respectively, have involved psychotropic substances. The most commonly ordered drugs include modafinil, armodafinil, diazepam, tramadol and clonazepam, in quantities of 30-100 pills.
Editor: Aili Vahtla