Cigarette Smuggling Still Booming PDF Print E-mail

The illicit trafficking of tobacco is a multibillion-dollar business today, fueling organized crime and corruption, robbing governments of needed tax money, and spurring addiction to a deadly product. So profitable is the trade that tobacco is the world’s most widely smuggled legal substance. This booming business now stretches from counterfeiters in China and renegade factories in Russia to Indian reservations in New York and warlords in Pakistan and North Africa.

Going Undercover PDF Print E-mail

Inside Baltic Tobacco’s Smuggling Empire


ICIJ’s reporters went to Russia to uncover the truth about the billions of black market Jin Ling cigarettes turning up across Europe. They quickly learned that packets of Jin Ling could not be purchased even in the shops, markets, or street stalls of the Russian city where they are made, Kaliningrad. But Jin Ling was available to smugglers, in huge quantities, from its manufacturer, the Baltic Tobacco Factory.

Made To Be Smuggled PDF Print E-mail


Russian Contraband Cigarettes ‘Flooding’ EU

mtbs_carEurope is being flooded by smuggled Russian-made cigarettes worth at least $1 billion a year, an international investigation has discovered.

A network of factories and routes has been put together across Europe since 2004, following large-scale smuggling routes previously supplied by major multinational tobacco companies. The new underground smoking trade involves only one brand, Jin Ling, which is turning up in more cities and countries across Europe every month.

Blame The Distributor PDF Print E-mail


How Gallaher Stayed in the Smuggling Game


In 2004, Cyprus-based tobacco distributor Tlais Enterprises Limited (TEL) was told it had received a “red card” from British customs, a warning that the company was suspected of cigarette smuggling.

TEL’s owner, Ptolomeos Tlais, was surprised. Born in Lebanon to a wealthy trading family, Tlais was doing, he said, exactly what his supplier, Gallaher Tobacco, had told him to do: quickly dumping large amounts of cigarettes onto developing countries. Everyone involved, he insists, knew that some of these smokes — especially their low-end Sovereign brand — would find their way back to the U.K., where avoidance of high tobacco taxes guaranteed smugglers a windfall.

<< Start < Prev 1 2 Next > End >>

Page 2 of 2

Tobacco Project

The Tobacco Underground is a project of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), program of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington DC. It was done in cooperation with OCCRP journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Russia and Ukraine and journalists in Brazil, Belgium, Canada, China, Italy, Paraguay and the UK.
ICIJ has created an interactive website with all of its stories, documents, maps and more information. It can be found here.

Date and Time

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021