An estimated 250,000 cigarettes, carried by up to 30 passengers on one flight from Rīga, were seized Nov. 6 by Irish customs officials at Dublin airport.
Customs officials described the smuggling operation as “highly organized,” Irish Revenue said in a press release. The couriers each carried 5,000 or more cigarettes.
No one was arrested. The L&M and Marlboro brand cigarettes had a street value of EUR 85,000 with an estimated potential loss of EUR 68,750 in taxes.
The seizures arose as a result of intelligence and profiling, an Irish Revenue spokeswoman told Latvians Online. The customs service’s “Operation Swift” targeted passengers arriving from Rīga.
It is not the first time smugglers from Latvia have tried to bring contraband cigarettes into Ireland. In March, for example, customs officials seized 1.4 million cigarettes valued at EUR 483,000 from passengers arriving during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. In May, 46-year-old Sandra Piruska of Latvia was arrested at the airport with 17,200 cigarettes in her baggage.
Arrivals from Latvia into Ireland are allowed to bring only 200 cigarettes for personal use, according to Irish Revenue.
Of the 32 million cigarettes seized so far this year from passengers arriving from the Baltic states, more than half—17 million—were carried on flights from Rīga. The total seized represents a retail value of EUR 11.6 million and a potential loss of revenue of EUR 8.8 million, Irish Revenue said.
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