The border guards within the Directorate for Countering Illegal Migration and Cross-Border Crime (GIBP) and Coast Guard, under the coordination of the prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Appeal Court Constanţa, with the specialty support of the policemen within the Directorate for Special Operations – General Inspectorate of Romanian Police, dismantled a criminal group which was carrying out illegal activities related to cigarette smuggling and which had branches at international level.
In order to dismantle the criminal group, the Romanian authorities collaborated with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Spanish Guardia Civil, Bulgarian National Police, SELEC and British agencies HMRC (British Customs) and NCA (UK National Crime Agency).
During the monitoring of the criminal activity, the border guards detected and confiscated more than 000 packets of cigarettes, Marble brand originating from smuggling activity, amounting to approximately one million euro.
On 28.03.2017, 38 house searches are carried out in Romania, at the group members, in several locations on the radius of Constanţa, Dolj, Bistriţa Năsăud, Arad, Timiş and Bucharest counties, in which border guards and representatives of the Special Intervention Brigade of Gendarmerie participate.
Concomitantly, the Spanish authorities will carry out 51 searches in Spain targeting the members of the same group, Romanian, Bulgarian and Spanish citizens involved in the trading of the cigarettes in that state.
As a result of the specific activities of the judicial police carried out at the level of the Directorate for Countering Illegal Migration and Cross-Border Crime within the General Inspectorate of Border Police and Coast Guard, in cooperation with the Territorial Inspectorate of Border Police Giurgiu, under the direct coordination of the case prosecutor within the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Appeal Court Constanţa, during December 2015-2017, the documentation of the criminal activities developed by a criminal group acting on the radius of Constanţa, Dolj, Bistriţa Năsăud, Arad, Timiş and Bucharest counties, with branches at international level, in the field of cigarette smuggling was carried out.
In order to document the entire criminal activity, the Romanian border guards cooperate, at international level, with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Spanish Guardia Civil, Bulgarian National Police, British agencies HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – British Customs) and NCA (UK National Crime Agency), SELEC representatives and were supported by the Spanish Attaché.
The criminal group was made up of Romanian citizens, supported by Bulgarian citizens and other Romanian citizens residing in Spain. They obtained smuggling cigarettes from Bulgaria, they transported them by different transportation means driven by Romanian or foreign citizens and were taken on the Spanish territory, where they stored and traded the smuggled cigarettes on the black market.
On 28.03.2017, 38 warrants were issued by a judge of Rights and Freedoms in Constanţa Court, based on which house searches were carried out, together with the employees of Special Intervention Brigade within the Gendarmerie in order to detect the smuggling cigarettes, falsified transportation documents, amounts of money resulting from the trading of cigarettes and other goods whose possession is forbidden by law.
For the convenience of investigation, the persons involved in the cigarette smuggling activity were summoned for hearings both at the headquarters of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Appeal Court Constanţa and also at the headquarters of the Coast Guard.
Concomitant with the development of criminal prosecution activities by the Romanian policemen, the Spanish authorities carry out 51 searches on the Spanish territory, at the persons involved in cigarette smuggling (Romanian, Bulgarian and Spanish citizens).
It all started in December 2015, when, as a result of several searches carried out at the residence of the Romanian citizen, Cosmin E., aged 37, residing on the radius of Dolj county, known as being involved in cigarette smuggling, it was ascertained that a combination of vehicles (truck and tank car) was parked in his yard, registered in Bulgaria, modified and adjusted for transportation of smuggled cigarettes, through the addition of a concrete platform weighing 14 tons, on the chassis of the tank car, so that the load of liquid product in the false transportation documents would coincide with the gross vehicle mass, which had storing places specially designed for concealing merchandise, other than liquids.
In March 2016, as a result of the specific surveillance activities, the border guards within the General Inspectorate of Border Police and Coast Guard, under the coordination of the prosecutor within the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Appeal Court Constanţa, identified on the radius of Dolj county another tank car registered in Bulgaria, modified by the addition of a concrete platform weighing 24 tons for the transportation of smuggling cigarettes. The driver of the tank car was acting on the route Bulgaria – Romania and was transporting smuggling cigarettes on the radius of Dolj county. As a result of the control, approximately 160.000 packets of cigarettes were detected in a location specially designed for concealing merchandise. The driver was brought before Court and sentenced for committing smuggling and use of false.
The group was monitored and information exchange was realized with the authorities in Bulgaria and Spain; on this occasion, the representatives of both countries mentioned that they also identified the same modus operandi on their territory for the transportation of smuggling cigarettes.
In June 2016, the border guards identified in BCP Bechet a truck registered in Bulgaria, on which they had information that it was used for the transportation of an important quantity of smuggling cigarettes hidden in paper rolls with destination Slovakia. Carrying on the monitoring of the transportation mean, it was ascertained that it changed the route, up to the residence of a Romanian citizen on Dolj county radius.
Based on the house search warrants issued by the judge of Rights and Freedoms within Constanţa Court, two house searches were carried out and the vehicle was detected in a parking lot, hidden by the Bulgarian driver. As a result of his identification, the proposal of arrest by default was issued and the Court of Constanţa issued an arrest warrant and a European arrest warrant.
The entire quantity of cigarettes detected in both cases (414.980 packets of MARBLE brand amounting to approximately 4.149.800 lei), as well as the vehicles, were preserved at the headquarters of the Coast Guard.
The documentation and the solving of this case were possible also as a result of the specialty technical support and cooperation in the operational surveillance field of the employees within D.O.S / I.G.P.R. and subordinated structures.
The investigations are carried on under the coordination of a prosecutor within Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Appeal Court Constanţa, for committing smuggling with cigarettes, a deed stipulated and punished according to Article 270, paragraph (3) in conjunction with Article 274 of Law 86/2006 on the Romanian Customs Code. The activities related to judicial police carry on for the correct and complete solving of the cause, following to be initiated the international judicial assistance procedure.
Depending on the result of the performing activities, the public will be informed, but maintaining the confidentiality of the criminal prosecution.