Finnish Customs has investigated a criminal case where snus and tobacco products have been smuggled to Finland and illegally distributed, especially in the Pirkanmaa region, said Customs in a press release on Tuesday.
It is suspected that the snus has been imported from Sweden and the cigarettes mainly from the Baltic countries.
Customs authority suspected twenty persons of aggravated tax frauds, tax frauds and offences of unlawful dealing in imported goods and one person is suspected of aggravated tax fraud and smuggling.
In October 2022, Finnish Customs conducted extensive searches at several houses in Pirkanmaa, during which about 100 kg of snus, 300 cartons of cigarettes and two unlicensed weapons were seized.
Customs suspected that the main suspect, who is from Pirkanmaa, has obtained hundreds of kilograms of snus, hundreds of cartons of cigarettes and electronic cigarettes from several different persons for distribution to Pirkanmaa by so-called sub-dealers.
It is estimated that the main suspect’s criminal activity has led to a financial gain of hundreds of thousands of euros.
In November 2022, the activity of the main suspect led Finnish Customs to the Helsinki region. A person living in Vantaa is suspected of having participated in the illegal import and distribution of excise products.
About 130 kg of snus, about 100 cartons of cigarettes, more than 2000 electronic cigarettes and one unlicensed weapon were seized from a warehouse and a van that were in the possession of the person living in Vantaa. A very large amount of cash and other valuables were also seized from the suspect.
Customs suspects that the cash originates from illegal activity and that the valuables are proceeds of crime.
“We estimate that the person from Pirkanmaa and the person from Vantaa have both obtained significant financial gain from their criminal activity. The final sums will be specified when the preliminary investigation is concluded,” said Hannu Sinkkonen, Director of Enforcement of Finnish Customs.
The case has been investigated by the Tampere and Helsinki units of Customs Investigation. The person from Pirkanmaa and the person from Vantaa were both detained, but they were later released.
The preliminary investigation is in its final stages and the case will be forwarded to the Prosecution Districts of Western Finland and Southern Finland in early autumn for consideration of charges.