Russian accused of smuggling 12 million cigarettes into Germany | News | DW | 01.11.2018
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Russian accused of smuggling 12 million cigarettes into Germany

The 43-year-old truck driver is accused of evading 1.6 million euros of taxes. Cigarette smuggling is a profitable criminal enterprise in the EU, where prices for cigarettes are high and can vary widely.

Police in the northern German city of Kiel said on Wednesday that they had detained a 43-year-old Russian man who is suspected of smuggling millions of black market cigarettes into the country.

"The officers caught a 'big fish' in their net," said the police in a statement. Kiel, which lies on the Baltic sea, is home to Germany's navy as well as a major shipbuilding center and a key European sea transport hub.

The truck driver is believed to be part of a gang that smuggled over 12 million cheap Russian cigarettes into Germany between 2009 and 2011. Police believe that he thus evaded paying taxes to the tune of €1.67 million ($1.9 million). 

A typical price for a pack of cigarettes in Russia is currently around 90 rubles (€1.20), while in Germany the major brands tend to cost €6.50 ($7.40) for a pack of 21.

Cigarette smuggling is a major criminal enterprise in the EU. In 2015, authorities busted up a smuggling ring that stretched from Italy to northern Germany. The criminal enterprise comprised some 50 shell companies and a tax loss of at least 60 million euros.

In that case, six men were charged, hailing from Germany, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia.

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