Central Market cigarette mafia returns

Latvian Television reported on June 1 that half a year after revealing the system for illegal cigarette trade in the Riga Central Market, changes to law have still not been adopted but traders have started to renew the industry.

After a long-term exploration and infiltration of cigarette trade, broadcast "Aizliegtais paņēmiens" (Forbidden Method) revealed how illegal cigarette business works and that police punishments do not frighten traders, many of them are not going to pay their fines.

In late November 2019, State Police conducted a raid on the market, several individuals were detained, including one of the trade leaders. Riga City Council also reached a solution to the problem, asking the market management to break the contract with the tenant in whose territory the cigarettes were traded.

But half a year after these events, the illicit cigarette business is thriving again.

Artis Druvnieks, Chairman of the Riga Central Market Board, acknowledged that the market turned to the Interior Ministry because the situation had improved, but "at the moment we have the feeling that everything is returning to the old ways, cigarette dealers becoming more attentive and harder to identify."

Proposals for penalties have been drafted, criminal liability is intended, but the laws have not yet been adopted by the Saeima.

Andrejs Judins, Head of the Criminal Policy Sub-committee of Saeima Legal Affairs Committee, explained that due to the COVID-19 crisis the issue could not be moved forward, work on these changes has been completed and the project has been prepared. Legal Affairs Committee examined the draft and supported its transfer to the Saeima.

Judins hopes that the amendments will be adopted over the summer.

 

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