Customs and TradeNewsOrganised CrimeSmuggling

Eighteen members of an organized crime gang were arrested, and 6 million cigarettes seized

Polish officials arrested 18 members of an organized crime group and seizured of 6 million cigarettes. The securing of two specialized lines for their production is the result of the joint actions of the Border Guard, Central Bureau of Investigation and the National Assistance Agency. The value of the secured goods is nearly PLN 5 million.

During all activities carried out in Poland and Great Britain, 38 million cigarettes and over £ 2.1 million in cash were seized, and 20 people were detained.

The biggest blow to the group took place in February this year in several Polish provinces. Officers from the Border Guard Post in Ruda Śląska, the Management Board in Warsaw of the Police Central Investigation Bureau and the Masovian Customs and Tax Office in Warsaw, under the supervision of the District Prosecutor’s Office in Piotrków Trybunalski, detained 18 suspects. Those detained in the case are people already known to the Police, Border Guard and KAS officers. During the action, the officers seized 6 million cigarettes, hidden in a truck trailer parked in a parking lot in the Łódź Province. A few kilometers away, in another town, on a private property, in a utility room, there was a machine for producing cigarettes. The officers discovered another machine on the trailer of a truck, standing on a private property in the Greater Poland Voivodeship.

In total, during the searches of several dozen properties, the officers seized, among others: 846 thousand PLN in cash in various currencies, luxury watches, 16 collector’s luxury vehicles (Porsche 911, BMW Alpina, Mercedes AMG), 12 tractor units, 10 semi-trailers for trucks, 110 g of gold, as well as clothing and accessories of exclusive brands. The value of the secured goods was initially estimated at PLN 6.3 million.

The case began in 2020, when the CBŚP policemen and KAS officers detained 2 people and seized 14 million cigarettes. At that time, in the Lodzkie Voivodship, a truck with a semi-trailer was stopped, in which there were over 4 million cigarettes branded with the brand of one of the British tobacco companies. In the Radomsko poviat, there were almost 10 million cigarettes in the warehouse. The illegal goods were hidden on pallets with cladding panels. According to the officers’ findings, the seized cigarettes were to be smuggled into Great Britain. Many months of cooperation between CBŚP and KAS officers with the British liaison officer of the HMRC in Warsaw led to the determination of the method of operation of an organized criminal group. As a result, in 2020, activities were carried out in the United Kingdom, where two Poles were detained. In trucks and in warehouses, British officers secured a total of over 18 million cigarettes. At that time, more than £ 2.1 million in cash was also seized. The money was in trucks that were to leave Great Britain for Poland. By the decision of the local court, both detainees were sentenced to 7.5 years in prison.

The materials of the investigation, conducted jointly by officers from the Border Guard Post in Ruda Śląska, CBŚP and KAS, show that the members of the group could send from a few to a dozen shipments of cigarettes to Great Britain each month, and called themselves “smuggling kings”.       

In the District Prosecutor’s Office in Piotrków Trybunalski, the detained were charged with participation in an organized criminal group, and additionally 14 people were charged with money laundering. During the period under investigation, the suspect was charged with marketing and smuggling at least 63 million cigarettes into the UK. By a court decision, 13 people were temporarily arrested.

During the activities carried out in Poland, 20 million cigarettes were seized, and 18 million cigarettes were seized in Great Britain, in total 38 million cigarettes were not allowed to be placed on the market without excise duty. The indicated allegations may be extended, and the value of property collateral and tax reductions may increase due to the specificity and developmental nature of the case.