Border Police is on the front line in terms of the efforts made to combat cigarette smuggling, which is a permanent priority for our institution.Thus, from the beginning of the year to the present, border guards - independently or in collaboration with custom inspectors or representatives of other authorized institutions - have detained for confiscation 4,406,034 packages with smuggled cigarettes, amounting to 49,674,658. lei, quantity that is maintained at values similar to those of the same period of the previous year. Also, during the reference period, 3,284 kg of tobacco and 579 kg of hookah tobacco were discovered and 10 organized groups (according to art. 367 Penal Code) were identified and destroyed in order to commit the crime of smuggling with cigarettes, in which 85 people were identified.In most cases, the smuggled cigarettes were found both at the border crossing points, hidden in the means of transport, and in the area of competence, at the border or on the communications near the border.As for the areas where most cases of smuggling are found, the most active remains the northern border of the country (Maramureş, Suceava, Satu Mare counties), where 65% of the total quantity of cigarettes in the whole country have been confiscated. In this area are predominantly Ukrainian cigarettes, smugglers being organized into real criminal groups, with segments abroad, at the border and inside the country. They are trying to pass the packs of cigarettes (bass) over the "green" border, especially at night.
From the registered casuistry, it was found that traffickers came mainly from the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine, but also from other states such as: Poland, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey, Austria, Germany, Hungary, etc. Among the main types of action that cigarette dealers use are:
- crossing the demarcation line through the places which presents conditions of difficult relief to access for the special vehicles from the Border Police endowment;
- concealment of cigarettes in old cars, modified or with hidden spaces to limit the losses in case of confiscation;
- the concealment of large quantities of smuggled cigarettes (the "cap" method) or even by the modification of the means of transport, or the creation of specially arranged spaces, among the goods transported.
Taking into account the complexity of this phenomenon and the ramifications throughout the country, it is necessary to continue the collaboration of all institutions with responsibilities in ensuring public order and combating this criminal phenomenon efficiently. The results in the fight against cigarette smuggling and tax evasion, as well as the annihilation of the networks of cigarette traffickers can be obtained only if they work in an integrated system, through an intense collaboration between the structures of public order and security and those with attributions in the fiscal field.
Last but not least, an important role in counteracting this phenomenon is the collaboration with the representatives of the production companies, a collaboration that has been materialized by donating the necessary equipment for the surveillance and control of the state border in order to make the actions against cigarette smuggling more efficient. Also, information campaigns were carried out whose main purpose was to raise awareness and inform citizens about the existence of the phenomenon of cigarette smuggling on the Romanian territory and implicitly the prevention and combating of this criminal phenomenon.
Among the significant cases registered from the beginning of the year to the present, we remind the following:
Over 400,000 packages with cigarettes, hidden in a car with wooden briquettes, in Halmeu Border Crossing Point
On February 2nd this year, at the Halmeu Border Crossing Point, Satu Mare County, a Hungarian citizen, CS, aged 40, was driving a road assembly, registered in Hungary, consisting of a tractor head and a semi-trailer and carrying, according to the documents accompanying the goods, wooden briquettes, from Ukraine to Hungary. As a result of the exploitation of the data and information held at the level of the Territorial Inspectorate of the Border Police Sighetu Marmatiei, the border guards, together with the customs workers carried out a control on the means of transport, because there was the suspicion that there was a large quantity of cigarettes from Ukraine. Thus, hundreds of bins with hidden cigarettes were discovered, concealed for the purpose of evoiding custom control, by the lid method, in packages with wooden materials. As a result of the inventory of cigarettes, the total quantity of 414,500 packages with cigarettes, different brands, worth 1,865,250 lei were found hidden, in the packages with wooden briquettes. The entire quantity of cigarettes was collected for confiscation by the border guards, and the car, worth 70,000 lei, was declared unavailable at the Border Police Headquarters. At the same time, the Hungarian citizen is investigated for committing offenses of smuggling and use of non-real acts.
A ton of tobacco, hidden among boxes with liquid detergents, confiscated at Border Crossing Point Petea
On March 13th , DH, aged 27, domiciled in Suceava county, driving a MAN branded utility vehicle, registered in Romania, presented himself to the Border Crossing Point Petea, Satu Mare county, to enter the country. It transported, according to the documents presented for control, detergent and laundry softener. Acting on the basis of the risk analysis, the border guards, together with workers from the Oradea Regional Anti-Fraud Directorate, carried out a thorough control over the vehicle. Thus, among the transported goods, the mixed control team discovered five pallets containing several boxes containing bulk tobacco, for which the person concerned could not present any documents. Following the inventory, 1,012 kilograms of tobacco have been discovered, amounting to 868,000 lei. Tobacco was raised for confiscation, and the utility vehicle, worth 332,000 lei was unavailable at the Headquarters of Petea Border Cotrol Sector. Also, the driver is being investigated for committing the crime of holding excisable products subject to marking, without being marked or improperly marked or with false markings, over the limit of one kilogram of bulk tobacco, according to the Fiscal Code.
Two men from Maramures County investigated for smuggling and 13,460 packages of cigarettes confiscated
On November 11th 2019, at Sighetu Marmatiei Teritorial Inspectorate, an action on the line of combating cigarette smuggling was launched, in the area of responsibility. Thus, workers from Inspectorate of the Border Police - Sighetu Marmaiei detected a field car traveling from the state border to the Piatra locality, Maramureș county. Our workers proceeded to intercept the car in question, it was stopped, and at the wheel of the car was identified the Romanian citizen D.D., 43 years old, domiciled in the area of Maramureș county. Following a check, several packages with cigarettes of Ukrainian origin were found and a Romanian citizen. OC, aged 37, was also identified, domiciled in the area of Maramureș county, involved in the criminal activity. As a result, the two Romanian citizens, along with the cigarette-laden field car, were taken at the Border Police Headquarters, in order to continue the investigations. Following the inventory of the packages in the vehicle, 13,460 packs of cigarettes, worth 157,500 lei were found. At the same time, the field car, worth 12,000 lei, used for the transport of cigarettes, was unavailable at the Border Police Headquarters, in order to continue the investigations. In this case, investigations are carried out for the crime of smuggling, as well as for the documentation of the entire criminal activity and finding those responsible.