2021.10.21 11:05

Scanner breaks down at Lithuania’s border crossing notorious for cigarette smuggling

LRT.lt2021.10.21 11:05

An X-ray machine used to detect smuggled cigarettes has broken down at Raigardas checkpoint on Lithuania’s border with Belarus.

“Raigardas’ mobile X-ray system is eight years old, while its life cycle is up to 10 years. Naturally, an old gadget can have malfunctions, and we happened to have one,” said Vitas Volungevičius, a representative of the Customs Department.

The checkpoint is located some 50 kilometres away from a cigarette factory in Grodno and is a popular passing point among smugglers.

It has relied on its scanner to monitor trucks crossing into Lithuania and detect illicit cigarettes. In July this year, Raigardas border guards found two cigarette cargos worth two million euros each.

According to Volungevičius, checks continue at the border despite the broken system.

“We inspect trucks manually and, if necessary, take them to the other checkpoints for inspection,” he said.

The X-ray system at Kena railway station on the border with Belarus is also broken and is only expected to be fixed next year.

Read more: Lithuania seizes another large shipment of illicit cigarettes in Belaruskali train

Malfunctioning scanning systems on key border checkpoints are “detrimental to Lithuania’s national security” and demonstrate the country’s “unpreparedness to counter intensified smuggling“, which is part of the “hybrid attack” that Belarus is waging against Lithuania, according to a security analyst Marius Laurinavičius.

Lithuania has asked for 54 million euros from the European Union to update all X-ray systems at the country’s border by 2028, Volungevičius said.

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