Counterfeit tobacco worth €17m seized in France

A raid on an underground factory for counterfeit tobacco in France last week has resulted in nine arrests and the seizure of more than 100 tonnes of illegal products worth an estimated €17m ($18.4m).

More than 60 officers from the Gendarmerie Nationale swooped on "quasi-industrial set-up" geared towards the production of cigarettes, with three zones – one for processing raw tobacco into finished, boxed cigarettes labelled as well-known brands, and other for storage of packs in cartons and large boxes, and a third dedicated to living quarters with 15 beds, a kitchen and living room.

The operation provide further evidence of large-scale production of counterfeit cigarettes within the EU, whereas a few years ago fakes would most often by manufactured outside the EU and imported into the bloc.

The setup of the facility "allowed the workers to live at the factory, completely cut off from the external world", according to Europol, which shared information about the gang with the French Gendarmerie.

Most of the nine suspects who were arrested were Moldovan nationals, and during the raids officers seized 55 tonnes of cigarettes in boxes - 19.4 m cigarettes and 15 tonnes of cut tobacco – as well as 50 tonnes of packaging materials such as paper, filters and labels, and 18 tonnes of waste from the cigarette production process.

They also confiscated vehicles, factory machinery and electronic equipment and over a tonne of food products, later donated to food banks. The seized tobacco and counterfeit products have been destroyed.

KPMG’s annual study on illicit cigarette consumption in the EU, the UK, Norway and Switzerland – commissioned by tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) – reported last year that while total cigarette consumption declined last year in the EU, illicit cigarette consumption increased in the region by 3.9 percent in 2021—or 1.3 billion cigarettes—reaching 35.5 billion cigarettes.

France was the largest market for illicit tobacco products in Europe, with counterfeit cigarette consumption increasing by 33 per cent over 2020.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top