Traffickers smuggling tobacco from Belarus busted in Poland

February 20, 2023

The investigation leading to 15 arrests and seizures worth over EUR 2 million was enabled by Europol operational analysis

Europol supported the Polish Border Guard (Straż Graniczna), the Police Central Bureau of Investigation (Centralne Biuro Śledcze Policji) and the National Revenue Administration (Krajowa Administracja Skarbowa) in disrupting tobacco smugglers and seizing large amounts of cash and valuables. The criminals were initially under investigation for drug trafficking in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Intelligence provided to the investigators by Europol revealed that the suspects were trafficking large quantities of tobacco products from Belarus to Poland. The proceeds of these criminal activities were laundered through cash conversion methods, property investments, the purchase of expensive luxury goods and the use of cryptocurrencies.

The operation resulted in:

  • 30 searches
  • 15 people detained and 18 people formally charged
  • considerable amounts of cash seized in zlotys, euros and US dollars
  • silver and gold coins and bars, gold jewellery, watches and 7 luxury cars seized
  • electronics and evidence of the use of cryptocurrencies, cash remittances and currency conversions gathered
  • total value of seizures amounts to EUR 2 million

Europol’s intelligence packages provide new leads

Europol’s dissemination of intelligence packages has given investigators new insight into the criminal network. In addition to identifying tobacco smuggling as a source of income, investigators were now able to trace the illicit profits. Analysis of encrypted data intercepted from criminals’ phones also revealed locations used to hide large sums of cash. Europol provided an analyst and a specialist on-site to assist the 200 Polish law enforcement officers involved in the operation. 

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