Serbia: ‘Record’ Seizure of Smuggled Tobacco
Serbian authorities arrested 12 people and seized 1,338 tons of dried tobacco from a warehouse in Ljubovija, western Serbia, on Thursday Jan. 9. The haul was reportedly worth 295 million Serbian dinar (US$ 2.9 million) and, if sold, would have defrauded the Serbian taxpayer of 139 million dinars (US$ 1.3 million) in unpaid tax and duties.
Serbian police claimed it was one of the largest confiscations of illegal tobacco in their history. The unnamed suspects are accused of falsification of documents, evading taxes, and business malfeasance.
The arrests follow Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s claims at a cigarette factory opening last October that the state is embroiled in a “fierce fight” to stop cigarette smuggling.
According to the European Union (EU) Delegation in Serbia, the illicit tobacco trade costs the EU over €10 billion (US$ 11.9 billion) in revenue every year. Thursday’s seizure accounts for 0.01 percent of the EU’s yearly predicted losses.