Joint Action Day Arktos – 6.7 mln illegal cigarettes, 2.6 tonnes of tobacco seized

Within just 10 days, law enforcement and customs officers from seven countries, EU agencies and international organisations managed to disrupt a number of criminal activities at the EU’s northeastern land border in operation Joint Action Day Arktos led by Lithuania, Poland and Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

The operation, which took place in June, focused on detecting excise goods smuggling via EU external borders, targeting tobacco smuggling. The officers also detected more than 400 innovative tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes and e-liquids.

Among the seized illegal goods were 6.7 million illegal cigarettes and 2.6 tonnes of raw tobacco, along with half-a-tonne of illegal drugs.

15 smugglers were arrested, and more than 200 forged documents detected.

The experts from the Frontex Centre for Combatting Document Fraud were on call to help law enforcement officers from participant countries determine whether a document they held in their hands during border checks was fraudulent.

The eastern land border remains a popular route for criminal networks to smuggle excise goods into the European Union. The most common way criminals try to smuggle cigarettes into the Schengen Area is by train, although this year one inventive swimmer crossed a lake that forms the border between Russia and Estonia, dragging along more than a dozen bags full of cigarette packs, assisted by a small electric engine.