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Poland Cracks Cigarette Smuggling Gang

(AFP) 6 March 2008 – Khaleej Times Online

WARSAW – Polish police announced Thursday they cracked a major gang smuggling cigarettes from China and the former Soviet republics to Western Europe, detaining 27 suspects including alleged gang kingpins.

‘One of the smuggling routes ran through the former Soviet Union via Poland to Britain. Another maritime route began in China to Poland and further west,’ Lublin regional police spokesman Janusz Wojtowicz told Poland’s PAP news agency.

One alleged kingpins, a 49-year-old Pole, was questioned by German police in Aachen, Wojtowicz said. ‘This is the first international organised crime organisation of such substantial size to be cracked in Poland,’ he said.

According to police, the gang was created more than a year ago by the owners of transport companies based in Lublin, eastern Poland.

Police found a truck loaded with 340,000 packs of cigarettes without excise tax seals. Law enforcement agents have also frozen 29 bank accounts and vehicles owned by the suspects.

Police also found milk jugs containing two million euros (3 million dollars) and around 500,000 pounds sterling (1 million dollars, 653,000 euros) as well as nine kilograms of items in gold in one of the raided homes.

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