A Moldovan gang was caught in the act of production and distribution of illegal cigarettes. The spokeswoman for the Czech Customs Office, Martina Kankova, released a statement saying the gang was caught at their production facility in Ralsko in České Lípa district. They are thought to have caused CZK 24 million in excise tax losses to the Czech Government.
Five people were arrested in the sting operation, all Moldovan citizens, including some holding illegal Romanian documents. Czech customs also found 8.5 million counterfeit cigarettes and euros with a value of about CZK 9 million.
The tip-off came in October from the Moldovan Police. Czech customs then learned that the gang was operating in other European countries. Included in the investigation were the Ukrainian Border Police as the operators of the cigarette production equipment were Ukrainians.
At the factory in Ralsko, the police uncovered an entire production line and a million cigarettes in boxes labeled L&M and Richmond. When other locations were uncovered a total of 180 pallets of goods used in the production of cigarettes were found.