In June 2015, 13 million smuggled cigarettes were seized as part of a Joint Customs Operation (JCO) targeting the illegal import of tobacco products entering the EU from third countries such as Belarus and Russia. The operation, codenamed "BALTICA", was led by the Polish Customs Administration and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), with the involvement of 6 Member States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden) and EUROPOL. The results were shared at a debriefing meeting in Poland on 17 September.
During the operational phase, 4.1 million cigarettes were seized by Polish customs. Two further seizures were made during the post-operational phase: 3.2 million cigarettes, with insulating foil used as a cover, were intercepted at the Kuznica border. A further 5.7 million cigarettes, hidden in consignments of synthetic strand, were seized near the Polish-Lithuanian border.
OLAF coordinated the operation by providing a secured communication system via which all participants were connected in real time to exchange intelligence on consignments coming from third countries into the European Union. This allowed the customs authorities involved to step up their controls.
JCO BALTICA also helped prevent the loss to the EU's and Member States' budgets in evaded customs duties and taxes. The operation has furthermore led to an increased exchange of information and analysis of intelligence on cigarette smuggling between the participating countries, OLAF and EUROPOL.
JCO BALTICA followed previous similar operations targeting the smuggling of tobacco products, coordinated by OLAF, such as Stepping up the fight against cigarette smuggling and other forms of illicit trade in tobacco products".
- Publication date
- 21 September 2015
- European Anti-Fraud Office
- News type
- OLAF news article