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About this project: Big Tobacco Smuggling


During 2000 and 2001, a team of reporters from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists broke a series of landmark stories exposing how leading tobacco companies worked with criminal networks to smuggle cigarettes around the world.

Relying on interviews with insiders and thousands of internal industry documents, the unique team – based in six countries – pieced together how smuggling played a key role in big tobacco’s strategy to boost sales and increase market share. Those revelations, and others that followed, helped prompt lawsuits and government inquiries, and led to promises of a global crackdown on the illegal trade in tobacco.

The series was reprinted or written about in more than 40 publications in 10 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, the U.K., and the United States.

Here is the complete ICIJ series, from its first stories in 2000 on industry involvement in smuggling to the exposés of 2001 revealing big tobacco’s collusion with Colombian drug cartels, the Italian Mafia, and North American motorcycle gangs.


ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.