Poland Dismantles Illicit Tobacco Factory, Arrests 16

Published: 03 August 2021

The leader of the criminal organisation was among those arrested.The leader of the criminal organisation was among those arrested. (Photo: Europol)

By Henry Pope

Polish authorities arrested 16 people suspected of being members of an organized crime group that produced illicit tobacco, intended to be sold in the United Kingdom and Germany, Europol said on Monday.

Over 100 Border Guard officers searched last week locations in and around the capital of Warsaw. They seized from an illegal factory over 1.6 million counterfeit cigarettes - which could have been sold for 9.7 million euros (US$11.53 million) - and 13 tons of tobacco, the statement said. 

Authorities estimated the factory’s production capacity at approximately one million cigarettes per day. 

The amount of tobacco that was seized would have been enough to make 13 million cigarettes which, if sold illegally, would have deprived the Polish budget of about 3.8 million euros ($4.52 million) in taxes.

The leader of the criminal organisation was among the arrested, Europol said.

Agents from Europol’s Analysis Project (AP) Smoke, which specializes in the production and the smuggling of illicit tobacco, were deployed to the Polish capital of Warsaw to help local law enforcement and coordinate with other countries.

OCCRP investigations have revealed that the illicit tobacco trade generates billions on the black market every year. The industry as a whole is expected to cost the lives of one billion people this century.