Counterfeit cigarette gang dismantled in France

Eleven people suspected of being part an Armenian organised crime group involved in the large-scale import and distribution of counterfeit cigarette have been arrested by French customs.

The arrests came during a day of operation in mid-March at 13 sites in and around the city of Lyon, including industrial premises and private residences, according to Europol, which supported French police in the action.

More than 2.5 tonnes of counterfeit cigarettes were seized, worth about €1.25m ($1.4m) in France, along with €100,000 in cash and €150,000 in winning lottery tickets bought by the criminals to launder the profits. Four guns and many types of ammunition were also seized.

French investigators have since discovered that the counterfeit cigarettes were imported from different European countries, before being stored in warehouses located in industrial areas and then sold on the black market in several French cities.

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