Police seize record number of contraband cigarettes

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Last year, Latvian police seized almost 50 million illegal cigarettes, which is nearly twice as many as in 2013 and a new annual record, Toms Sadovskis, a spokesman for the Latvian State Police, told the BNS newswire.

During 2014, police conducted 3,621 inspections, drew up 3,269 protocols for various violations and launched 704 criminal probes as part of the clampdown on illegal trade in excise goods.

Sadovskis indicated that "catching the big fish" in this illegal business was one of the priorities last year and that this approach was also reflected in statistics, as the number of criminal probes increased, while the number of administrative cases dropped in 2014.

Police data shows that the law enforcement authorities seized 28 million illegal cigarettes in 2013, 25 million in 2012 and 14 million in 2011.

The biggest haul of illegal tobacco was seized in November 2014 when police detained five cigarette smuggling suspects in a residential suburb of the southeastern Latvian city of Daugavpils. While searching a hangar rented by the suspects and a truck officers found 19 million cigarettes.

In 2014, Latvian police also seized some 90 tons of illegal alcohol and about 138 tons of illegal oil products.

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