Macedonia: Police Bust Cigarette-Smuggling Ring

Police raided several cities and busted a transnational cigarette-smuggling ring operated by Kosovars, Albanians, Macedonians, and Bulgarians Monday, Bulgaria’s Novinite reported.

The illegal goods were believed to be imported from Albania and Kosovo, with Bulgaria as a final destination.

The ring was headed by Albanian and Kosovar citizens who smuggled cigarettes to their Macedonian counterparts. They were then stored in Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, or in bunkers near the Macedonian-Bulgarian border, from where Bulgarian citizens transferred them across the border.

Authorities seized cigarettes, money, drugs, weapons, and packages of energy drinks.

In total 19 were arrested while another managed to escape. The arrested included one Bulgarian and a customs officer, the Bulgarian private information agency, Focus, reported Tuesday.

The crime group has been in operation since 2010. Police have been investigating and identifying members of the group for several months.

Police are interrogating the detained.