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Smugglers imported 5 tonnes of snus, Finnish Customs says

Authorities in Finland have made another big snus smuggling bust.

File photo of police dog and snus tins.

Finnish Customs say an Estonian man orchestrated the smuggling of some 5,000 kg of snus from Sweden to Finland this year. The oral tobacco was then distributed to sellers on the black market, according to the agency.

A total of 11 individuals are suspected of involvement in the ring. Four of those have been detained, according to customs.

Police in Helsinki also arrested a number of Finnish men suspected of distributing the snus, but have since released them.

If the smuggled snus was sold in Finland and taxed (which is not possible under Finnish legislation as it stands now), Customs estimates the sales would have netted the state some 2.2 million euros in taxes. Pasi Lukkarinen of Finnish Customs explained to Yle News that this figure is reached by applying the excise duty regime for tobacco to the estimated revenue generated by the smuggled snus.

In this case that means the price would be 61 cents per gram of snus, and the excise duty due to be paid to the tax administration would be 37 cents per gram.

Under Finnish law selling snus is illegal, although the product is popular and widely sold in neighbouring Sweden. Police are investigating the case as smuggling and tax evasion.

The alleged Estonian ringleader allegedly arranged the transport of snus deliveries from Sweden at Finnish border crossings in south-western Naantali and Turku as well as in Lapland's Tornio and Ylitornio.

Snus is illegal to buy and sell in Finland and - with the exception of Sweden and Denmark - across the EU. But it remains legal to import the oral tobacco product to Finland for personal use.

Snus is usually packaged in round plastic tins that contain around 42 g of the tobacco product.

Finnish Customs regularly reports major incidents of snus smuggling. The most recent case was a group found to have smuggled some 12 tonnes of the tobacco to Finland in 2016-2018.