On 14 July Turkish authorities confiscated over 100 tons of smuggled cigarettes from a vessel in the Bosphorus Strait.
The seizure, by Istanbul Maritime Customs Enforcement teams, happened as the vessel was on route from the port of Famagusta to Skadovsk in Ukraine. It was the largest amount of cigarettes ever confiscated in Turkish coastal waters.
Enforcement agencies of four countries were involved in this operation over several months, and included actions co-ordinated through the Black Sea Co-operation Forum.
EUBAM supported the operation by sharing and facilitating information between Black Sea Co-operation Forum partners. Colin Gazeley, Head of EUBAM’s Border Management Department, described the seizure as “further evidence, if any was needed, of the value of co-operation between countries in combating smuggling in the Black Sea region”.
Head of the Press Office of the Southern Regional Directorate of Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service Colonel Andriy Biloborodchenko highlighted that the “State Border Guard Service established fruitful and efficient co-operation with the border guard agencies of other countries for this operation, and achieved a significant result”. He noted that “this co-operation has prevented many cases of the illegal movement of counterfeit cigarettes in both Ukraine and the European Union.”
EUBAM actively supports the combating of cigarette smuggling through its Task Force on Tobacco. The Task Force brings together the Mission’s Moldovan and Ukrainian partners to co-ordinate their efforts to countering the illicit trade in tobacco products. It has encouraged partners to share intelligence and develop integrated methods for dealing with this common problem. It has also facilitated contacts with their counterparts in EU member states and other countries, as well as the broader business community.