Got smoked: as supplied contraband cigarettes from CIS

© AP Photo / Sergei GritsСотрудники customs service of Belarus is prepared contraband cigarettes to the destruction ofGot smoked: as supplied contraband cigarettes from CIS© AP Photo / Sergei Grits

. The population of border regions of Belarus, Poland and the Baltic States found a risky but very lucrative form of income is the smuggling of tobacco products. Cost of cigarettes in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine is much less than in the EU, because the goods in large quantities secretly trafficked into the EU without paying excise duties. In the border areas for many years, there is an undeclared war: the smugglers and government employees compete in wit and technical equipment.

Recently there was a case that surprised even familiar to all Polish customs officials: they found in one of the cars of a passenger train, EN route from Grodno to Krakow Poland, 52 thousand cigarettes in plastic bags hidden under the ceiling of the car. The smugglers are pre-cut and twisted heads of screws, which has set aside the ceiling panel, thus to remove it was the most difficult. Cigarettes when found, the car had to unhook from the composition to make a thorough inspection. Customs officers complain that the owner of the smuggled goods was not possible, although it could be one of the passengers.

In late July, the Polish border guards detained in the Lublin Voivodeship an entire organization of smugglers are imported in vehicles with hidden cigarettes from Ukraine. Among them were the poles and Ukrainians. The goods they carried not only in Poland, but then — in Germany. Just for several months their efforts to the EU market has been thrown illegal cigarettes worth nearly 1.5 million PLN (over 340 thousand Euro). Previous large-scale detention of this kind was held in March — then the eleven poles and Ukrainians found and seized more than 22 million cigarettes without Polish excise stamps. In Ukraine, for a bundle request five to twenty hryvnia, and poles come true for five-six zlotys (about 30-37 hryvnia). That is, the seed from each pack — more than 15 UAH.

Polish border guards say the attempts to smuggle cigarettes into the frame and wheels of bicycles, soccer balls, inside, musical instruments, books, loaves of bread between layers of waffles. But most of the smoke hiding in cars and trains, using caches of various places, for example car tires.

It should be noted that the recesses in surface transport are considered from smugglers in the past. Now «filibusters of prigranichie» actively use much more sophisticated in technical terms, methods of delivery. So, in the Service of protection of the state border (CORR) Lithuania complain about the invasion of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Drones are actively used. In may 2014, the Russian border guards intercepted in the Kaliningrad region the device with a wingspan of four meters, can accommodate up to ten pounds of cigarettes. For navigation it has an integrated GPS system, the operator coordinated flight on a 3D map. That failed to the owners of the drone, it came from other cigarette «air Express» is gaining momentum.

On the trolley and on the ice with a GPS tracker

Losses, of course, can not be avoided, but, according to these businessmen, it’s worth it. In only one 2017 in Lithuania recorded 34 illegal crossing of the border by drones. In CORR noted that the aircraft launched from the territory of neighboring States that can carry cargo weighing up to twenty kilograms. Although the head of googlekey Renatas Wishes emphasizes that the drones can use both the smugglers and the representatives of the «unfriendly States» (in Lithuania the authorities have long been claiming that waiting for the «Russian aggression»), it is primarily talking about the criminal element. Lithuanian border guards are allowed to open fire on the drones crossing the border.

In July last year, Russian border guards detained the night in the Pechory district, near the border with Estonia, the inhabitant of Pskov. He ran to a neighboring country drone loaded with cigarettes, but the second batch to send was not in time. Similarly, the Russians tried to deliver tobacco to Finland.

However, drones — all that equipment is expensive, not everyone can afford. There are cheaper methods of air delivery. So, in July of last year, three unemployed citizens of Belarus bought two trikes brand «Frigate». The fuselage attached boxes with tobacco and introduced in the navigation route, the endpoint of which was to become the neighborhood of the settlement robeznieki in Kraslava region, Latvia. If successful, they hoped to establish a steady supply. But the hapless smugglers were detained immediately before the start.

By the way, the drones in contraband fisheries are used not only air but also ground. In January of this year, Belarusian border guards just two hundred metres from the Lithuanian frontier was intercepted by automated mini-train, riding the rails from a neighbouring country. Equipped with motor with two batteries the truck was so powerful that before it stopped, knocked down a policeman. A homemade device similar to a miniature trolley, stretch mesh for boxes of cigarettes — empty. The Border Committee of Belarus came to the conclusion that it was a test drive, but a new method of smuggled smuggling, have been unsuccessful. Although it is possible that the trolley-the drone was returning to Belarus after the successful transfer of goods.

Another «promising» method of delivery, suitable, however, only for a certain time of the year of smuggling alloy on the rivers on the ice. Containers with cigarettes vorgelegt in the ice, camouflage and equipped with GPS sensors. Also tobacco transports the wagons with coal, wood (in podavlenii trunks), hide in tanks with rapeseed oil or trafficked under the water using scuba divers.

A lot is at stake: Ukraine tobacco factory made a whole batch of counterfeit or unbranded cigarettes — specifically for smuggling. In neighboring Belarus, the production of cigarettes, estimated to be twice the demand in the domestic market. Local tobacco are not only in EU but also in Russia. Belarusian contraband cigarettes are from 26 Russian rubles per pack. The price of similar products produced in Russia, at least twice. If you compare with Western countries, the difference is far more impressive: the price of tobacco in four, five and a half times higher than in Belarus. If in Poland the pack in average cost 3.17 euros, in Belarus — 0,58 EUR. Therefore, the products of the local tobacco factory «Neman» and «Tabak-invest» is widely divergent from the Republic.

«The reason (why the security forces are unable to cope with smuggling. — Approx. ed.) are well known — corruption. Any head of an institution responsible for anti-smuggling, could argue the reverse only with pink glasses on the eyes», — said the Director of criminal management of Customs of Service of state incomes of Latvia Edijs Ceipe. The importation of cigarettes are not only single, but well-organized group. «Unfortunately, they are not without the help of corrupt officials — all these devastating for the reputation of the staff of the internal Affairs of black diagrams to identify not as easy as it may seem,» — lamented the Cape.

In turn, the head of the parliamentary Commission on defense, internal Affairs and corruption prevention Ainars Latkovskis to the question about why vendors of illegal cigarettes for many years not bothering to make sales of goods at the Riga Central market, said that their detention would not have made it. «It’s just intermediaries, backed by well-organized groups. It is necessary to identify and lock these chains. But the work went smoothly, you should increase the motivation of law enforcement officers and prevent corruption in their environment,» said Latvian Deputy, alluding to the low salaries of employees of government agencies. Therefore, her motivation is not always enough.