Early on Friday morning, customs officials at the Narva border crossing point in northeastern Estonia stopped a truck originally from the Russian Federation, in which the largest amount of illegal cigarettes discovered in Narva in recent years was found.
After drawing up customs documents, the officials directed the truck to an X-ray inspection. The X-ray raised suspicions that there was contraband hidden in the truck. The behavior of the sniffer dog working at the scene also indicated possible illegal goods in the trailer`s bottom structure.
During a more thorough examination, a total of 969,900 cigarettes bearing Belarusian tax stamps, specifically the «NZ Gold» brand, were discovered under the truck`s double floor. The driver had not declared these cigarettes during the border crossing process.
According to Ursula Riimaa, deputy director general of the Tax and Customs Board, the authority takes smuggling cases very seriously.
«Illegal smuggling damages fair competition, public health and the state budget,» Riimaa said.
«Considering the amount of the confiscated illicit goods, the state would have lost out on approximately 161,343 euros in excise duty,» Riimaa said. «The discovery in question shows the importance of the work of our officials to help ensure the movement of honest goods only.»
The investigative department of the Tax and Customs Board launched criminal proceedings, which are being led by the Viru District Prosecutor`s Office.
«Proceedings were launched on the basis of the Penal Code section on smuggling,» Antti Aitsen, the special cases prosecutor at the Viru District Prosecutor`s Office, said.
According to Aitsen, this is the largest amount of illegal cigarettes that someone has attempted to smuggle across the Estonian-Russian border into Estonia illegally through the Narva border crossing point in recent years.
«During the proceedings, we will determine, among other things, whether the illicit cigarettes were intended for distribution in Estonia or in another country,» he added.