The GNR Fiscal Action Unit, in conjunction with the Tax Authority’s Anti-Fraud Services Directorate and under the direction of the Central Department of Criminal Investigation and Action (DCIAP), have completed the 15-month investigation known as “Out of the Circuit”.

This has culminated in the indictment by the DCIAP against 16 defendants relating to a transnational criminal organization that organized, production, processing and marketing of fine-cut tobacco and cigarettes.

The criminal organization now dismantled was dedicated to the large scale smuggling and production of leaf tobacco from Spain, Poland and Bulgaria into Portugal.  It was then processed, and packaged for sale and delivery to the public, through social networks and online shopping sites throughout Portugal, without declaration and payment of taxes.

The movement of the proceeds obtained from the criminal activity was carefully carried out in order to avoid its traceability by the relevant authorities.

For the compensation of the State, due to the actual damage caused by IT, VAT and IRC due to the fraudulent activity amounts to more than 13 million euros. The Civil Prosecution Service filed a civil damages claim.

In the course of the investigation, more than 12 tonnes of leaf tobacco and fine-cut tobacco were seized, which if sold would have resulted in further losses to the State of a further 15 million euros in taxes.

During the survey, 111 searches were carried out (87 domiciliary and 24 non-domiciliary) and 19 citizens of Portuguese nationality, aged between 26 and 61, were detained.

The authorities also seized machinery and various objects used in illicit processing and marketing of tobacco, more than two hundred thousand euros in cash, dozens of computer equipment and devices, as well as 32 motor vehicles used in the aforementioned criminal activity.

Accused defendants are charged with committing a criminal offense, twelve felonies for fraudulent introduction into qualified consumption, nine crimes of qualified tax fraud, three money laundering offenses and three crimes of tax fraud. The measure of pre-trial detention was applied to three suspects and the arrest warrant with electronic surveillance to two others, and one of the suspects remains in custody.