October 8, 2018

Cigarettes to Cocaine

From: Guardian

 in Barcelona

Arrest of Manuel Charlín, 85, reveals resilience of Galicia’s cocaine clans

Released in 2010 after 20 years in prison, the trafficker made a return to notoriety last week


In the 1960s, the smugglers scaled up again, this time into tobacco, initially via Portugal before they cut out the middleman and bought directly from the American tobacco giants.

Tobacco made them millionaires, and soon there was more lucrative work in the rías smuggling tobacco than there was in fisheries. The tobacco was brought in large ships that were unloaded out of sight in the high seas and then brought ashore in launches and fishing boats, a modus operandi that foreshadowed the trade in narcotics.

August 6, 2018

JTI secures prosecution of second illegal tobacco seller

From: Talking Retail

By Liz Wells


Evidence of the offences was obtained via a series of undercover mystery shopping operations conducted outside a car boot sale held at Coles Park Stadium, London, N17. Eight illegal products, all 50g packs of roll-your-own tobacco, were purchased during the investigation.

A spokesman for JTI said: “We welcome the decision made by the court in this case. This is the second successful private prosecution supported by JTI against a criminal selling illegal tobacco, which demonstrates the company’s commitment to help tackle the problem of illegal tobacco and we will not hesitate to take similar action in future.”

July 24, 2018

Market of illegal, local cigarettes expanding ‘alarmingly’ (Bangladesh)

From: The Independent

Illegally produced local cigarettes pose a potential threat to the success the government has made in last few years by increasing the price of cigarettes with an aim to controlling the consumption of tobacco products. A market investigation revealed three types of illegal cigarettes – smuggled cigarettes from abroad, products faking local popular brands and locally produced cigarettes evading taxation. Thanks to the promptness of tax department and administration, the issue of smuggled cigarettes often made headlines. But remote and underdeveloped regions are home to the biggest market of locally produced and tax evading cigarettes. That’s why they hardly come under the surveillance of the law enforcers and government monitoring systems. These cigarettes are marked with fake or reused bandroll or tax stamp. This type is gaining popularity in every corner of the country due to its cheap price and lack of surveillance.

July 11, 2018

Meet the detection dogs helping Chester council’s trading standards officers

From: The Chester Chronicle

Last week dogs Willow and Ted assisted in sniffing out hidden stashes of tobacco

Willow indicates a find.

Left, Willow indicates there’s something hidden behind the cupboard which opens up, right, to reveal illicit tobacco products.

Seizures included cigarettes and tobacco that were not in standardised packaging and failed to contain health warnings in English. These products cannot be legally sold in the UK.

Councillor Karen Shore, cabinet member for environment and community, praised the use of the dogs who are provided by Wagtail UK Ltd.

Read Complete Article

Spanish Police Capture Key Members of Russia’s ‘Thieves in Law’

From: Bloomberg


  • Armenian faction of Vory v Zakone gang targeted in Spain
  •  Group allegedly smuggled tobacco, fixed sports bets in Russia

Spanish police said they captured seven key members of the Armenian faction of a Russian organized crime group described as Europe’s most dangerous gang.


The group operated a network to smuggle contraband tobacco produced in Ukraine and Poland and distributed in France, Italy and Spain, police said. They were also involved in bribing basketball, beach volleyball, ice hockey and minor league tennis players in Azerbaijan and Russia to fix the outcome of matches, according to a Spanish police statement.

May 4, 2018

Florida law enforcers open information-sharing center in Tampa

From: Fox13News.com

By: Crystal Clark, FOX 13 News

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the center’s first success on Monday when two men were charged with running Florida’s biggest stolen cigarette ring.


The center is where authorities first noticed a trend in robberies and burglaries of large quantities of cigarettes across their cities and counties. They began to compare surveillance images and tips in order to catch the culprits.

Read Complete Article

April 2, 2018

House Financial Services Committee Hearing: “Exploring the Financial Nexus of Terrorism, Drug Trafficking, and Organized Crime”

From: House Financial Services Committee

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 2:00 PM in 2128 Rayburn HOB 
Terrorism and Illicit Finance

Click here for the Committee Memorandum.

Witness List

  • Mr. Joseph Humire, Executive Director, Center for a Secure Free Society (TTF)
  • Mr. Derek Maltz, Executive Director, Government Relations, Pen-Link, Ltd. (TTF)
  • Ms. Celina B. Realuyo, Professor, Practice of National Security Affairs, William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University (TTF)
  • Dr. Louise Shelley, Professor, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University (TTF)

March 30, 2018

US Customs in Miami seize over six million counterfeit cigarettes

From: American Journal of Transportation


Illegal trafficking in cigarettes generates significant profits for criminal organizations and poses a public health risk. Counterfeit cigarettes not only affect trademark owners, but defraud consumers and deprive the government of tax revenue. Consumers think they pay less for a genuine product, when in reality they pay less for a product of substandard quality.

“International counterfeiters will get caught,” said Agriculture and Prepared Products Center Director Dina M. Amato. “This seizure is the latest example of the extraordinary vigilance of CBP personnel with federal partners in Florida thwarting illegal trafficking of counterfeit cigarettes.”

February 20, 2018

Estonian customs find 4.5 mln illicit cigarettes from truck

From: The Baltic Course

The officials of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board during an inspection of a truck at the port of Paldiski found 4.5 million contraband cigarettes from the vehicle’s load, reports LETA/BNS.

Siim Rudissaar, head of service at the investigative department of the Tax and Customs Board, said that the truck had a Lithuanian license plate and a trailer and arrived to Estonia on February 10 through the Ikla border crossing point and on the same day headed to Paldiski to board a ship to Sweden, spokespeople for the Tax and Customs Board said.

January 29, 2018

Two Indian Citizens and India-based Corporation Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Smuggle Counterfeit Cigarettes

From: Food and Drug Administration/Office of Criminal Investigations & US Department of Justice/Southern District of Florida

January 23, 2019

Abhishek Shukla and Harish Shabhai Panchal, both citizens of India, entered guilty pleas, along with the India-based company, Jubilee Tobacco Industries Corp., to conspiring to smuggle counterfeit cigarettes into the United States.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Peter H. Kuehl, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), Miami Field Office, Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO), made the announcement.