More than 20 000 kg of snus smuggled from Sweden
Finnish Customs has investigated a large-scale criminal case involving smuggling and distribution of snus. The preliminary investigation started in Tornio and was extended to the Pirkanmaa region. It is suspected that the amount of evaded taxes is several million euros.
In autumn 2022, Finnish Customs seized snus from a vehicle in Tornio. This led to a preliminary investigation, based on which Customs suspects that more than 20 000 kg of snus was smuggled from Sweden to Finland in 2020–2022. Of this quantity, more than 10 000 kg was transported mainly to Pirkanmaa, where it is suspected that the snus was sold e.g. via social media platforms. It is suspected that the snus was also sold in the Satakunta region and in central Finland.
“Several different vehicles were used to smuggle the snus from Sweden to Finland, and it is suspected that legal business activities were used for this activity. In Tornio, three persons have been suspects in the case, and at least two of them are suspected of having been responsible for acquiring and smuggling the snus from Sweden to Finland,” says the investigator in charge Pekka Jauhola from Tornio Customs.
In Tampere, Customs suspects that two persons made about 80 trips to northern Finland in 2020–2022 in order to collect snus smuggled from Sweden for the purpose of selling it.
“It is suspected that several million euros in excise duties have been evaded through the criminal activity. In connection with the preliminary investigation, we have conducted several searches, seized property connected to the criminal activity and taken precautionary measures to secure claims of the State,” says the investigator in charge Tuomas Korhonen from Tampere.
More robust methods needed for combating crime
This year, Customs has investigated several cases of smuggling and resale of snus.
“For example, in this case involving Tornio and Tampere, the smuggled quantities are very large. Smuggling creates a significant number of illegal money flows, which then need to be laundered. If society wishes to address this form of crime, legislation should be developed to enable criminal investigation authorities to use more effective investigation methods for preventing and uncovering cross-border crime. Especially in the case of the smuggling offence, there should also be an aggravated form of the offence, and in that case, it should also be possible e.g. to use telecommunications interception in preliminary investigations. Criminals are very good at using modern technology, and authorities must be able to monitor illegal activities by modern methods,” says Hannu Sinkkonen, Director of Enforcement.
In Tampere, Customs suspects 11 persons of the offences and in Tornio, there are three suspects. The criminal case has been investigated as aggravated tax frauds, smuggling, tobacco sales offence and unlawful dealing in imported goods. The case has been investigated by the Tornio and Helsinki units of Customs Investigation. The preliminary investigation is in its final stages and the case will be forwarded to the Prosecution District of Western Finland during the autumn for consideration of charges.