International network of counterfeit cigarettes dismantled in Euro

International network of counterfeit cigarettes dismantled in Euro

On a European scale, several investigative units were mobilized to eliminate cigarette smuggling linking Eure with Belgium. ©Illustrative photo / Romain Dameron

It’s a nice trawl that the police did October 15, 2022. More than 7,200 cigarette packs, 135 kg of cigarette tobacco, more than 13 kg of hemp resin, 250 grams of cocaine…

The Research Section (SR) of Rouen, the Research Brigade (BR) of Saint-Nazaire, the Interministerial Research Group (GIR) of Rouen and BR Andelys have been conducting investigations for several months trading in cartons of counterfeit cigarettes imported from Belgium.

All frompreliminary investigation with the public prosecutor’s office in Évreux for the drug trade. Investigations that allow them to discover that the protagonists also and above all specialize in the importation of large quantities of counterfeit tobacco from a warehouse on the outskirts of Mons in Belgium. They identify one of the alleged ringleaders: a 42-year-old man jailed for a narcotics case. From his cell, he participated in the organization of the import and delivery of counterfeit tobacco, mainly to the Paris and Great Western regions.

One hundred boxes of cartridges on each trip

“The operation was particularly well established and the role of each was perfectly defined,” notes Colonel Thierry Jourdren, commander of the Rouen SR. The “criminals” were responsible for traveling to Belgium in a large commercial vehicle and returning to France in a convoy, carrying one hundred cartons of counterfeit cigarettes on each journey. »

Faced with the scale of the operation, the forces gained orders creation of a national cell work on the case full time. Investigators also worked with Belgian customs officials under the auspices of Europol. Mobilization that made it possible to precisely locate the warehouse where the shipments of counterfeit tobacco were made, in Belgium.

3,600 rounds in Belgium, as many in France

During a control operation carried out on 13 October 2022 by Belgian customs in the presence of the investigating judge from Évreux and French investigators from SR and GIR from Rouen, more than 3,600 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes were seized, for market value exceeding EUR 380,000.

“Two days later, on October 15, 2022, French investigators intervened and carried out a wave of arrests and searches in the departments of Eure, Val d’Oise, Loire-Atlantic and Morbihan,” says Colonel Jourdren. An operation which mobilizes more than 80 employees. With the support of local departmental gendarmerie groups, the investigators also seized more than 3,600 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes, 135 kg of counterfeit tobacco for packaging, more cash, more than 13 kg of hemp resin, 250 grams of cocaine, and also a firearm. and several vehicles.

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Before the investigating judge in Évreux last week seven people are indicted, six of whom are in custody. Meanwhile, the seventh is under judicial review.

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