Homeland Security Today, 14 May 2021
During the second week of May, the French Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) with the support of the French Judicial Customs (SEJF) arrested five individuals and seized 250,000 counterfeit cigarettes in a series of raids in the city of Nantes.
This action follows an earlier one on April 9 which saw seven other members of the same organized crime group arrested in the cities of Nantes, Rodez and Montpellier. On this occasion, close to five tonnes of counterfeit cigarettes were seized, alongside €37,000 in cash.
Europol deployed specialists from its European Financial Economic Crime Centre on both the action days to support the French authorities.
This organized crime group received the illegal cigarettes from two criminal networks based abroad, arranged for their storage in various cities in France and then managed their subsequent distribution through a number of criminal wholesalers – composed mostly of Georgian, Armenian and Ukrainian nationals – onto the French black market.