Bloom it smuggling of cigarettesin our country.

One in four cigarettes on the Greek market is estimated to be illegal a fact that corresponds to tax avoidance of over half a billion annually.

With one in four cigarettes being illegal, Greece ranks second in the EU. in production and consumption of contraband, with the loss of revenue for the public reaching 519 million euros a year

Expert, who cooperates with the prosecuting authorities of the E.U. and spoke to SKAI on the condition of anonymity, explains that Greece is among the countries preferred by smugglers because of its lenient laws.

He mentions that for Greece we know that 20 to 25% of the cigarettes consumed are illegal. They are cigarettes for which tax has not been paid.

He describes how the tobacco smugglers have their roots in the East.

These are mainly members of the Russian mafia, the Ukrainian mafia and the Balkan mafia.

These countries are the headquarters of the specific criminal networks and moreover the Italian mafia is involved in it,

Their main goal is to manufacture cigarettes in those markets where there is a lack of legislation and to promote cigarettes in markets where the price is much higher such as France, the UK or Germany.

The cigarette making machines as well as the unprocessed tobacco arrive hidden in containers at the port of Piraeus.

Each cigarette maker leaves a unique imprint on the package. From the expert’s investigation into empty packets he collects from the garbage, it has emerged that five illegal tobacco factories are operating in Greece today

From the streets we collect empty packages from selected points avoiding for example areas with tourists coming to the country/ the aim is to collect the packages from streets where local people live“, explains the expert.

He adds that the Greek market is special. The majority of cigarettes sold illegally in Greece are manufactured here in Greece or in Bulgaria. There is no influx of contraband cigarettes from other countries, probably because there are good conditions for the manufacture of contraband cigarettes here. During the last five years, law enforcement authorities have identified 20 illegal tobacco factories in the outskirts of Attica.

In these factories they use workers from abroad, usually Ukraine, Moldova, they take away their documents and mobile phones, they stay in specially designed dormitories, they usually stay for 20 days and have no contact with the outside world“, according to an official of the financial police.

He also points out that for renting the premises they usually use non-existent persons, straw men so that it is difficult to identify them.

In several cases, however, contraband cigarettes are imported ready-made through the port of Piraeus from China, Cambodia or the United Arab Emirates hidden in legal cargo.

According to Ilias Lionos from the 3rd Customs of Piraeus, they are trying with various tricks and methods to pass them through our port to a country in the community.

They usually use non-existent companies or put some virtual persons“, points out.

An illegal tobacco factory is estimated to be able to manufacture 1.5 million cigarettes per day, ensuring profits for its manager of 700,000 euros per day.

If such a factory produces continuously, meaning in two shifts then they can produce 1.4 million per day.

This implies a profit for them on a daily basis amounting to 700,000 euros per day.

However, the investigations of the prosecuting authorities so far have not brought the “masterminds” of the smuggling rings to justice since, according to the competent authorities, they are taking measures and it is difficult to reach the top of the hierarchy.

Just a month ago it was revealed that many of the murders in the area of ​​the Greek Mafia were associated with the battle to control cigarette smuggling.