B a lot of packets of cigarettes from Andorra and Spain. The contraband market continues to thrive.

“Pilip, pilip, pilip…”. This is not the whistling of a bird, but the small cry of a roadside seller of cigarettes making reference to a famous brand of blonde to tease the passer-by. Monday in the cold wind, like all days, it is set in the popular area of the cours Gambetta, Montpellier, right next to… a tobacconist.

“I’ll sell the package for 5 €, but I sell just one cartridge per day, I win a euro per packet, enough to pay for a sandwich, relativizes-t-it. Everyone buys : men, women, youth and all categories”. In the rue Daru adjacent, colleagues, vendors are not hiding and appeals to all motorists stuck in the traffic jams, package in hand. Even a high servant of the State and his driver have been approached recently…

They arrive in the port of Sète

A little later, in some grocery stores, some of which are now on sale – which is prohibited – smoking in the unit… These phenomena are increasing and the increase in the price to necessarily be an impact. “Yes, there is a correlation, one finds these cigarettes on the sly to Nîmes, Alès, Saint-Gilles and Beziers but it is the traffic of the ant,” said François Brivet, regional director of customs of Montpellier. It is quite complicated to intervene because as to the traffic of narcotic drugs, some monitor and alert when a service comes in. It captures small amounts, cigarettes are stored in other places.”

These “fags” come from Andorra, Algeria or Morocco. They arrive in the port of Sète or the airports of Nimes or Montpellier and they are often manufactured in China – with the rates of tar and nicotine, leaving something to be desired – and they pass through Hong Kong. Difficult to quantify the extent of the traffic. But it is in any case well-organized. Packages in “our” reseller montpellier come to Andorra this time, but he admits there have never set foot.

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“I did not get a fine the first time”

In fact, a wholesaler has already taken its margin. The Montpellier says buy the cartridge 40 € to the one who paid 35 € on the other side of the border against more than 70 € in France. He was caught once by the police which didn’t deter him from returning to pound the pavement. “They took cigarettes and money, I did not get a fine the first time… I come back here because it is necessary well to live”, lance-t-il, supervisor of a corner of the eye the possible arrival of a police siren.

For the customs, the largest seizures of cigarettes – increase by 2017, compared to 2016 – are on the borders, in cars, even if some do not hesitate to cross the andorran border on foot. “Yes, there is still the contraband to the dad, at night, with people who are often armed,” recalls François Brivet. It is not confirmed, but a lot of the customs felt that the fines are a deterrent (1). “The customs code provides for even up to 5 years in prison,” he said.

(1) You can bring a cartridge Andorra, beyond that, the merchandise is confiscated and the fine is equivalent to “one to three times” its value and legal proceedings may be taken, if the cigarettes have been hidden or if there are any threats. From Spain, you can bring down your “personal consumption”, the appreciation of the customs, therefore.

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