Organized crime group dealing with illegal production of cigarettes dismantled

Since November 2017 the Bulgarian and Romanian Police conducted joint activities within the frame of the operation codenamed “FIREFLY”. The criminal activity of the organized crime group acting in the field of illegal production and smuggling of cigarettes was detected by the Bulgarian Directorate for Combating Organized Crime. The members of the organized crime group were of Romanian and Bulgarian origin. The Romanian perpetrators were living in Bulgaria and they were organizing their illegal activities by recruiting personnel for illegal factories, providing samples for future deals, meeting alleged buyers for the illegally produced cigarettes, a/o.

For several months officers from the General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime in Sofia and the Border Police in Bucharest and Constanta used special investigating measures with the purpose of collecting evidence for the criminal activity of the entire network.

As a result, from all intelligence and information gathered, it was concluded that the illegal factory controlled by this organized crime group was located neither on the territory of Romania, nor in Bulgaria. Consequently, support was requested to other countries assumed to host the illegal factory on their territory.

Based on the provided information, the Belgium Police started an investigation and located the illegal factory in a warehouse in the city of Tamines/Belgium, seizing all equipment and devices found.  Four additional warehouses were located, with a total of 10 tons cut tobacco and 25 million pieces of cigarettes ready for use in the cities Jemeppe-sur-Sambre and Gilly (Charleroi).

By using special investigative measures, the Belgian police managed to document routes, vehicles used for transport, companies and individuals involved.

The total prejudice to the state budget according to the estimation of the Belgium authorities is 7,1 million Euro.