Polish police arrested five alleged members of an international organized crime group involved in illegal trade of tobacco and seized over 39 million cigarettes, Europol announced.
After an almost three years-long investigation supported by Europol, British and Italian authorities, Polish investigators detected that the group fictitiously exported legally-made cigarettes to avoid paying taxes and sold them on the black market.
The network consisted of Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Brits, Belgians, Greeks and Italians.
During the process, the suspects bribed customs officials in some EU countries, the press release said. Would the group had managed to smuggle the seized amount of cigarettes, it would have deprived the EU budget of nine million euro.
Such fraud “deprives Member States of revenue that would otherwise be used to fund vital public services such as schools, hospitals and infrastructure,” the press release said.