By CATHY MORRIS [email protected]
Two English nationals and two Portuguese citizens were arrested last weekend as police broke what they believe to be an international cigarette smuggling ring.
In Operação Rochedo (Rock Operation), fiscal police seized 209,740 contraband cigarettes, over 50 kilos of rolled tobacco, two vehicles, 15 mobile telephones and 5,604 euros in cash, as well as 4,900 in pounds sterling.
The responsible policing body was the Destacamento de Acção Fiscal de Faro, one of five regional divisions in Portugal.
Major João Antunes coordinated the operation from the Faro Fiscal Police Brigade and confirmed to the Algarve Resident that raids were carried out at three homes and businesses in Loulé and Albufeira last Friday, September 4.
According to the Portuguese newspaper, Correio da Manhã, a bar in Albufeira was raided, however, Major Antunes was not able to confirm exact locations when asked by the Algarve Resident, explaining that the information was part of “an ongoing investigation”.
He added that Operação Rochedo was the culmination of a police investigation over a period of nine months.
Major João Atunes said that he believed some of the tobacco was destined for sale in Portugal and some was to be transported from here to other countries but did not say where.
Among the seizure were Benson & Hedges, Embassy, Lambert & Butler, Mayfair, Regal, Richmond, Superkings and Silk Cut cigarettes, with an estimated value of 37,704 euros.
Police confirmed that the two English nationals, aged 42 and 49, are official residents in the Algarve. They were arrested and presented at the court in Portimão on Saturday, September 5.
One of the English individuals was ordered to personally report to the police station three times a week, while the other was ordered to fill in a judicial document to confirm personal identification and address information, known as a Termo de Identidade e Residência.
The two Portuguese nationals, aged 32 and 37, were also ordered to fill in the same judicial document.
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