Big Tobacco Smuggling

Exposed: How billions of cigarettes end up on black markets

Major tobacco multinationals implicated in cigarette smuggling, tax evasion, documents show.

The U.S. rises as a transit point for contraband cigarettes

In his statement to Congress in March 2000, the head of U.S. Customs — a former Marine and New York City cop who rose to the rank of police commissioner before turning to federal and international law enforcement — alerted lawmakers to a new and alarming problem. There had been a "dramatic increase" in the number of cigarette imports to the United States, starting roughly in the last half of 1999.
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Cyprus: Big Tobacco’s favorite smuggling hub into the UK

On August 28, 2000, a ship owned by Greek Cypriot Christos Tornaritis attempted to ram a patrol boat of armed customs officers off the coast of Crete. The officers had tracked the 1,542-ton Cambodian-registered freighter from the Cyprus port of Limassol to Port Said, Egypt. It was now bound for Latvia. The officers seized the "Marina" and discovered 7 million packs of British-made cigarettes on board, brands normally smoked only in the United Kingdom.
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In Latin America, Big Tobacco partners with money launderers, smugglers

Twenty miles off the northern coast of Venezuela lies a tiny, sunbaked island called Aruba. Like so many self-governing Caribbean islands that cling to the coast of the Americas, it has been a smugglers' paradise since colonial times. For decades, it also has been a linchpin in an illegal tobacco trade that Colombian authorities claim comprised as much as 90 percent of cigarettes sent into Colombia.
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Canada’s cigarette smuggling corridor

Dino Bravo, a former World Wrestling Federation wrestler and mob enforcer, was sitting in his leather recliner, programming his new VCR on March 12, 1993, when two men walked into his luxury home just north of Montreal and shot him seven times in the head. Police later found in his home stacks of cash and documents related to the cigarette smuggling business.
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BAT finds a partner in Asia’s most notorious criminal organization

The Chinese consume almost one out of every three cigarettes manufactured worldwide, or 1.6 trillion out of about 5.2 trillion cigarettes consumed annually. And their consumption grows about 2 percent each year. It's no wonder, then, that in the early 1990s British American Tobacco considered China "key to BATCo's longterm success," according to an internal company document.
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Tobacco companies linked to criminal organizations in lucrative cigarette smuggling

A year-long investigation by the ICIJ shows that tobacco company officials at BAT, Philip Morris, and R.J. Reynolds have worked closely with companies and individuals directly connected to organized crime in Hong Kong, Canada, Colombia, Italy and the United States.
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Tobacco firms used suspected drug traffickers, EU lawsuit claims

A European Union lawsuit against two major U.S. tobacco companies says RJR Nabisco had dealings with suspected narcotics traffickers in Spain and money-laundering suspects in the Caribbean, and claims that smuggling activities by Philip Morris "have enabled drug lords to launder their illicit profits."
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