Deux tonnes de cigarettes de contrefaçon saisies dans le Val-de-Marne

The gendarmes have discovered more than 60,000 packages, and arrested two Polish nationals suspected of fueling the French underground market.

by Abdelhak el Idrissi

The gendarmes of the Paris Research section got their hands on Thursday, March 16, on 67,000 packets of counterfeit cigarettes in an underground car park in Orly (Val-de-Marne). Informed of the existence of a supply sector from Poland to Ile-de-France and the neighboring departments, the investigators arrested two men of Polish nationality while they were in charge of the merchandise in cars, according to information from the world confirmed by the Créteil prosecution.

This entry represents a total of two tonnes of cigarettes, packaged in the form of cartridges of ten packages and imitating the red packaging of the Marlboro brand, for an estimated value at 750,000 euros.

In the process, a preliminary investigation was opened by the Créteil prosecution for fraudulent detention for the sale in organized tobacco -fabricated tobacco and aggravated whitening, and entrusted to the Paris research section. The police custody were still in progress on Friday March 17. One of the two accused is already known to justice for acts of cigarette trafficking. The first investigations made it possible to find 45,000 euros in cash at his home during searches. The gendarmes also entered three luxury cars, with total value of around 200,000 euros, which would have been used to transport cigarettes.

increased seizures

France, particularly targeted by tobacco traffickers, represents the first European market for smuggling and counterfeiting cigarettes. “Tobacco seizures have continued to increase in recent years,” confirms the Ministry of the Economy. More than 600 tonnes were seized by customs services in the first ten months of 2022, in sharp increase compared to previous years (284 tonnes in 2020, 402 tonnes in 2021).

Cigarettes are partly imported from China or Eastern European countries. But the increase in the quantities entered is also explained by the industrialization of parallel sectors on French soil. In January, gendarmes thus dismantled in Normandy a clandestine factory for the manufacture of cigarettes in Saint-Aubin-lès-Elbeuf (Seine-Maritime). More than 100 tonnes of products have been discovered there, according to the France-Presse agency. This is the most important illegal factory discovery in France to date. In December 2021, the authorities had first dismantled a clandestine cigarette factory, in Poincy (Seine-et-Marne).

Faced with “the unprecedented scale taken by the parallel tobacco market”, the Minister responsible for public accounts, Gabriel Attal, announced in December several measures to combat trafficking. The new 2023-2025 tobacco plan provides in particular for the purchase of 22 additional “additional scanners positioned on tobacco roads and in postal warehouses”, a 20 % increase in the number of “tobacco dogs”, or the creation of “groups control anti-tobacco anti-trafic “in the main traffic basins identified in France