2020.01.03 16:58

€26.6m-worth of smuggled cigarettes busted in Lithuania last year, an all-time record

BNS 2020.01.03 16:58

Lithuanian customs officials seized a record number of contraband cigarettes worth 26.6 million euros last year, the Customs Criminal Service (MKT) said on Friday. 

Over 8 million packs of contraband tobacco products were detained in 2019, up from 6 million in 2018 and 2017, based on preliminary data.

The police opened 63 pre-trial investigations into suspected cigarette smuggling cases in 2019, compared with 45 in 2018.

Most of the cigarettes were detained on the border with Belarus, up from 33 percent in 2018 to 53 percent in 2019. "Belarusian cigarettes account for 85 percent of all cigarettes detained by the Customs," according to MKT.

Meanwhile, 28 percent of all seizures took place on the border with Russia's Kaliningrad region, up from just 1 percent in 2017.

The size of contraband shipments has also increased. "While in the past smugglers would usually transport 100 to 200 boxes of cigarettes per truck, now they often try to bring in about 1,000 boxes," according to the MKT.