After 10 years, justice is served. In October 2009, French customs seized a vehicle carrying 6 tons of contraband cigarettes. That is to say 30 000 cartons. The mountain of “Regal King Size” cigarettes was hidden behind boxes of dog food. The tobacco shipment was captured in the Roscoff harbour, in the Finistère region, and destined for the UK black market. The case was tried on April 22nd in Rennes.
Investigators determined that the cigarettes, most likely manufactured in Moldavia, were temporarily stocked in a warehouse in Saint-Martin-des-Champs, near Paris. According to police, at least 5 successful trips into the UK took place between November 2008 and October 2009, but it appears the route was being tested, as only legal goods were transported during these 5 trips.
The truck driver, a Breton, was quickly exonerated. This black market cigarette trade was set up by a Hungarian network that appears very well organised and structured. The prosecutor taking the case wanted to impose exemplary sanctions for these traffickers, on par with illegal drug trafficking sentences.
A punishment to fit the crime
Of the five accused Hungarian players showed up to court, and no lawyer was there to defend them. One was deemed responsible for logistical management and was slapped with a 4-year hard sentence. Aged 46, his role was to ensure the goods arrived safely after their East-to-West journey.
The individual determined as the ordering party received a sentence of 6 years. Three other trafficking professionals, who had limited involvement, got an 18-month sentence.
Given none of the accused were present, a warrant was issued for their arrest. The two ringleaders of this network were also condemned to pay a fine of 1.5 million Euro, each.