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Customs authority: Criminal chain may be behind contraband cigarette sales

Confiscated contraband cigarettes.
Confiscated contraband cigarettes. Source: (MTA)

Last year, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA) detected a total of 15.4 million contraband cigarettes, and according to the authority, there may be a criminal network behind the sale of the cigarettes.

"Estonia is a transit country on the way of contraband cigarettes reaching the EU market, but some contraband cigarettes are sold here as well," MTA Deputy Director General Rivo Reitmann said. "According to recent data, the share of contraband cigarettes on the domestic Estonian market is around 15 percent, and revenue from selling them threatens fair competition."

According to Reitmann, the customs authority needs people's help in rooting out the market for contraband cigarettes. He noted that the sales chain of the cigarettes has the same structure as a regular criminal network, in which criminals at the top of the chain earn the most by using the sellers lower down the chain.

Annual losses due to the sales of contraband cigarettes in the EU total approximately €10 billion.

The MTA in cooperation with Philip Morris Eesti has launched a campaign against contraband trafficking this week.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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