Customs officials said Monday that they suspect a group of eight people are behind an organised smuggling operation that illegally brought a total of 12,700 kilograms of snus, a powdered tobacco product, into Finland from Sweden between 2016 and 2018. Sales of the substance are banned in all EU countries except Sweden.
Although commercial imports of snus are banned in Finland, individuals are allowed to bring from abroad a maximum of one kilogram of the substance per calendar day into Finland for personal consumption.
The main suspect in the case is a 50-year-old Finnish citizen resident in the Swedish border town of Haparanda. Officials say one of the suspect’s accomplices is a younger person also living in Sweden. Other accomplices are believed to hail from Kainuu, eastern Finland, as well as the Helsinki region.
All of the individuals are suspected of aggravated tax fraud and smuggling. Customs say that the estimated excise duties that the group failed to pay on the amount of smuggled snus is in the region of 4.6 million euros.
Customs say that the smuggled goods were first picked up in the Kemi-Tornio area and were transported by several vehicles in lots of about 10 kilograms. Once it arrived in Finland, the product was immediately transferred to the recipients’ own vehicles following which they transported it to different buyers.
Customs officials’ preliminary investigation revealed that the main suspect residing in Sweden had received orders for the smuggled goods and had worked with two other suspects to professionally move the contraband between the two countries over a period of two years.
Finnish Customs will hand the case over to prosecutors for consideration of charges during the autumn.
Edit: Updated at 4.22pm to include information on personal allowances for the importation of snus into Finland.