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First verdict in EPPO case in Italy: 10 convictions for tobacco smuggling

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Today, the pre-trial judge at the Tribunal of Palermo issued 10 convictions concerning a tobacco smuggling investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Palermo. This is the first verdict in an EPPO case in Italy in abbreviated proceedings.

The convicted persons organised a smuggling scheme of counterfeit cigarettes from Tunisia to Sicily (Italy). One criminal organisation was in charge of collecting the smuggled cigarettes and organising illegal shipments by sea from North African shores to the maritime borders of Italy, transhipping the boxes of tonnes of tobacco to smaller boats. The second criminal organisation, active in Palermo (Sicily), purchased large amounts of the illegally imported goods and transported them by car to sell on the retail market in Sicily.

The smuggled cigarettes had a market value of €3.5 million and caused damages of more than €6 million to the national and EU budgets. The convicts will have to serve a combined sentence of 50 years in prison, and will collectively have to pay a fine of €70 million.

The judge also ordered the confiscation of one speedboat, 2 vehicles and €16 000 in cash, for a total value of €150 000, along with 28 tonnes of cigarettes.

More information about this investigation can be found here.