SBU together with foreign partners terminates activities of international group of cigarette smugglers
Employees of the Security Service of Ukraine jointly with the State Bureau of Investigations, the Prosecutor General's Office, HM Revenue and Customs and the special services of Poland conducted a large-scale operation to stop the activities of the international group, which organized smuggling of tobacco products from Ukraine to the European Union.
The SBU Acting Head Ivan Bakanov informed this during a joint briefing with the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, Director of the State Bureau of Investigations Roman Truba and the Deputy Head of the International Operations Intelligence Network Directorate of the Customs and Tax Service of the United Kingdom David Huntley. A special operation called “Mahma" took place in close co-operation with British partners and was conducted in three stages. Cigarettes amounting to fifty million hryvnias were seized at the place of illegal storage of manufactured tobacco products in the territory of the Odesa region. During searches in the boundary districts of Transcarpathian region law enforcement officers detained 13 trucks with tobacco products for a record amount while the Independence period - 70 million hryvnias. At the final stage of special operations, special service operatives have established that the group consists of more than ten citizens of Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. "In our country dealers organized in the territory of Kyiv region, namely, in Kyiv-Svyatoshyn and Makariv districts, underground shops and warehouses, where illegal manufacture and storage of tobacco products was carried out", - said Ivan Bakanov. Afterwards counterfeit products were smuggled through the state border of Ukraine to the countries of the European Union. Employees of the Security Service of Ukraine also uncovered an underground printing company in Odesa region, where group members printed labels of packs of cigarettes of famous brands used for packaging of counterfeit manufactured in illegal workshops in Kyiv region. “Smuggling schemes detected by us prove that this is a problem not only in Ukraine, but there is organized international traffic that ignores all borders, but we can fight it with joint efforts," Yuriy Lutsenko said.
On July 3, 2019, a clearly coordinated operation of the SBU, the State Bureau of Investigations, the Prosecutor General's Office and foreign partners took place, in framework of which authorized investigations were conducted on the territory of Ukraine and the Great Britain. In Ukraine, searches were conducted in underground shops and storage facilities, as well as in residencies of the persons involved in criminal proceedings.
The SBU detected two equipped lines for illicit tobacco manufacture, five thousand excise stamps, over three million of cigarettes, three tons of tobacco and materials for packaging of counterfeit products. "This is the largest-scale operation for counteraction smuggling of tobacco products, conducted jointly with foreign partners. It is the first in the history of Ukraine and the European Union ", - acting Head of the Security Service of Ukraine emphasized. The UK budget lost from this scheme tens of millions of pounds annually. "In Europe, smuggling undermines the economic stability of states and is a source of terrorism financing. Money received from smuggling is used by criminals for political corruption and lobbying for their own interests”, said David Huntley. Within the framework of criminal proceedings initiated under Part 3 of Art. 204, art. 209 and Part 3 of Art. 364 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, the pre-trial investigation is ongoing. "The involvement in the smuggling channel operation of employees of the fiscal and border guard services is being established, because it could not exist without their participation," Roman Truba underlined. The Security Service of Ukraine jointly with Ukrainian colleagues and foreign partners will continue sturdy fight with smuggling schemes.
SBU Press Centre
For the Attention of the SBU Head