AS the profits from cigarette smuggling by criminal gangs continues to rise, there is concern about a big decrease in the level of fines imposed for those who are caught.
The ‘slap on the wrist’ fines for smuggling have decreased by an average of 37 per cent in the second quarter of this, year compared with the first three months.
Fines for selling cigarettes on the streets, as opposed to smuggling, dropped 22 per cent between between April and June, compared with the first quarter.
Analysis of the Revenue defaulters list shows that the average fine for smuggling illegal tobacco and cigarettes in the first quarter of this year was €3,022. But in the second quarter of this year, the average fine decreased to €1,875.
Compared with the potential profits, the fines being imposed by the courts are now seen as an occupational hazard by both the smugglers and street dealers.
A car-load of cigarettes carrying 50,000 cigarettes means a profit of €8,700. However, a van with 500,000 cigarettes can mean a bigger payday of €87,000 for the smuggling gangs, while a container holding 7,500,000 cigarettes, means a €1.3m bonanza if sold on the streets.