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86 charged after massive booze smuggling probe

TT/The Local/dl · 18 Jan 2012, 08:14

Published: 18 Jan 2012 08:14 GMT+01:00

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Three men from Sundsvall in northern Sweden are suspected of running the operation, which utilized trucks to transport thousands of litres of beer, wine, and spirits bought at large liquor stores in northern Germany back to Sweden to be sold online.

In addition to a 26-year-old man believed to be the brains behind the operation, prosecutors on Tuesday charged more than 80 other people in Sundsvall for participating in the operation as drivers, warehouse operators, and distributors.

According to the local Sundsvalls Tidning newspaper, a total of 86 people were charged for involvement in the operation.

“What has occurred are planned transports of alcohol from the continent to Sweden where sales were organized via the internet,” prosecutor Karin Everitt told the TT news agency.

“This is a well-organized smuggling operation that engaged a large number of drivers and accomplices – all to get as much illegal alcohol into the country as possible,” customs inspector Sven Eriksson said in a statement.

The 8-month-long probe has produced more than 10,000 pages in preliminary investigation findings.

Altogether, the smuggling ring is suspected of bringing 195,000 litres of beer, 7,000 litres of wine, and 1,700 litres of spirits into Sweden illegally.

In parallel with the Sundsvall case, charges were also filed in Stockholm against eight people suspected of having smuggled around 200,000 litres of hard liquor into Sweden for sale to customers in the Stockholm area.

The charges in Stockholm relate to a total of 13 trips from Germany.

According to the indictment, the smuggling operations resulted in the Swedish state missing out on 38 million kronor ($5.5 million) in alcohol taxes.

Swedish Customs (Tullverket) confiscates substantial quantities of contraband booze every year. In 2010, the agency seized 79,000 litres of liquor, 58,000 litres of wine, and 348,000 litres of beer.

Story continues below…

Nevertheless, agency head Therese Mattsson said the case in Sundsvall was unique.

“It involved huge quantities and it was very commercialized,” she told TT.

Mattsson believes that the buyers of illegal alcohol, which is often sold online, purchase the goods in good faith.

“I'd like to believe that. One assumes the liquor comes from within the EU and because Sweden is a member of the EU, it must be okay. But in Sweden we have our own rules when it comes to excise tax, which is explained on serious websites.”

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:57 January 18, 2012 by wvansl
I thought you could bring in to Sweden around 110 liter beer, 10 liter wine and 5 of strong drinks. (give or take a few liters).

If you would drive every day back and forth, is it then illegal or not?
09:20 January 18, 2012 by Mark737408
I thought it was legal too
09:22 January 18, 2012 by engagebrain
wvans - the legal problem arises if/when you sell on the alcohol.

The longevity of your liver might also be a concern.
11:33 January 18, 2012 by Central European
Well...,any regulation which open space to earn profit on such ordinary things like is ordinary butter or demonics alcohol etc, for reason like protection of local market or local people is just wastening of time of local police, wastening of goverment money and giving opportunity to be rich to some people as a good starter point to become a local mafioso.....

And what is the result ?

Police has spent 8 mth of time, produced 10,000 pages of papers and wasted large sum of money to help sweden :) and showes missing 38 mio sweden crowns on taxes.... my question is what is the other side ? What was the cost of this heroic police action ?

Tullverket has abou 2500 employes how many of them are in charge to confiscate 79,000 litres of liquor, 58,000 litres of wine, and 348,000 litres of beer per year ? What are real benefits ?
12:53 January 18, 2012 by riose
@wvansl EU -> Free movement of persons, goods and capitals.

You can take as much alcohol as you want into Sweden, but you cannot sell it.
13:49 January 18, 2012 by engagebrain
It's is about evading taxes.

There are those who pay tax those who cheat. Cheating is not neutral, it then requires more tax from the honest part of the population.
14:46 January 18, 2012 by Jeremy Slawson
Hardly surprising that Alcohol is smuggled when your local taxation is so many multiples of that applied in neighboring countries.
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