Loire-Atlantique: an international tobacco smuggling network dismantled

A police vehicle, illustration

Credit: KK / RCA la Radio

An international network of counterfeit tobacco traffickers dismantled by the Gendarmerie.

This is the announcement made this Thursday evening by the soldiers of the Rouen Research Section, which had been conducting the investigation for very long months, supported in particular by the Saint-Nazaire Research Brigade.

Initially, the investigators opened a preliminary investigation with the Evreux public prosecutor’s office for trafficking in narcotics. During the investigations, the investigators realize that the main activity of the protagonists consists of importing large quantities of counterfeit tobacco from a warehouse located in the suburbs of Mons, Belgium. Quickly a judicial investigation is opened with the judicial court of Evreux and one of the heads of presumed network is then identified“Details Colonel Thierry Jourdren, commander of the Rouen Research Section in a press release.

The alleged head of the network in question is a 42-year-old man. Not really difficult to find for the investigators since the forties was in detention, to serve a sentence related to narcotics. More surprisingly, however, the man directed his entire network from the back of his cell, organized the import and delivery of counterfeit tobacco to such and such a place, mainly in the Paris region but also in the far west of France.

The traffic was particularly well established and everyone’s role was perfectly defined.

Of the “ henchmen ” were responsible for traveling to Belgium with a high-capacity utility vehicle and returning to France, in a convoy, by carrying, on each trip, a hundred cartons of counterfeit cigarette cartons. The commitment gendarmes from the Surveillance Observation Group of Rouen, Nantes and Poitiers and from the CDOS 95 (Departmental Cell of Observation Surveillance of Val d’Oise) made it possible to materialize the journeys made by the criminals“explains Colonel Jourdren.

Faced with the scale of the traffic, the investigators asked, with the assistance of the Central Office for the Fight against Itinerant Delinquency, the creation of a national investigation unit bringing together several investigators
working full time on this file.

By dint of work, the investigators end up “accommodating” precisely the Belgian warehouse where the supply of counterfeit tobacco was carried out.

Thus, during a control operation carried out in Belgium on October 13, 2022 by Belgian customs, in the presence of the investigating judge of Evreux and French investigators from the SR and the GIR of Rouen, a large number
cartons of counterfeit cigarettes is discovered in the warehouse in question. In fact, more than 3600 cartons of cigarettes are seized, for a market value exceeding 380,000 euros.

Two days later, on October 15, the French investigators took action and carried out a wave arrests and searches in the departments of Eure, Val d’Oise, Loire-Atlantique and Morbihan.

In total, more than 80 personnel are mobilized on this operation. A delegation from Europol and Belgian customs also attended the searches carried out in Loire-Atlantique and Morbihan. Supported by the local departmental gendarmerie groups, the investigators also seized more than 3600 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes, 135 kg of counterfeit rolling tobacco, a large sum of money in
liquid, more than 13 kg of cannabis resin, 250 grams of cocaine as well as a firearm and several vehicles“.

Presented before the investigating magistrate of Evreux, in the Eure, during the past week, seven people are put in examination of which six are placed in detention and the seventh, as for it, is placed under judicial control.