Illegal Cigarette Factory Raided

OLAF /10/04 Brussels, 22 April 2010

An illegal cigarette factory in Vilnius, capable of producing at least 1000 cigarettes a minute, has been raided and closed down in an operation mounted by Lithuanian Customs supported by OLAF. Six people were arrested at the factory, which was producing 3 brands of cigarettes for the illegal markets in the EU. As well as cigarette-making and packing machines, Lithuanian Customs seized large quantities of tobacco, paper and other materials used in the production of cigarettes.

Mr Nicholas Ilett, acting Director General of OLAF, said that the number of illegal factories producing counterfeit cigarettes in the EU has risen quite dramatically over the last five years.

"I would like to congratulate the Director General of Lithuanian Customs, Mr Antanas Šipavičius, and his staff for this great result. Lithuanian Customs and OLAF have cooperated closely in this investigation and OLAF investigators were present when the factory was raided. This type of cooperation is essential if the criminal gangs responsible for defrauding European taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of euro are to be brought to justice. We are looking forward to continuing to work closely with the Lithuanian authorities".

This operation is one of a number of actions OLAF is currently involved in to target the illicit production of cigarettes in the EU. Since the first illegal factory was discovered in 2003, over 50 illicit manufacturing facilities have been closed by EU law enforcement agencies.

Pavel BOŘKOVEC
Head of Unit Spokesman, Communication, Public Relations
European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)
Rue Joseph II, 30 B-1049 Brussels (Belgium)
Phone: +32 2 296 72 00
Fax: +32 2 2998101
E-mail: olaf-press@ec.europa.eu

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