Seven defendants, five British and two Portuguese, are being tried at Albufeira Court for charges relating to criminal association and the illicit trafficking of cigarettes dating back to 2009.
A nine month long investigation by the Faro GNR Fiscal Action Unit culminated in the arrest of the seven suspects and the apprehension of around 210,000 cigarettes, 1,160 ounces of rolling tobacco, vehicles and money.
According to Correio da Manhã newspaper, one of the British defendants would import the cigarettes in from Gibraltar, where they are cheaper, to then either be illicitly traded in the UK or at Algarve bars associated with the “millionaire tax evasion scheme”, said the authorities.
Cigarette brands included Benson & Hedges, Lambert & Butler and Silk Cut.
Ring leaders were two British men, aged 45 and 52, while the two Portuguese defendants, aged 31 and 40, stored the smuggled tobacco at warehouses in the Algarve.
The other suspects were “trusted accomplices who worked in a coordinated manner for a common objective”, stated the Ministério Público (public prosecutor), which is now requesting a compensation of more than €70,000, on behalf of the Portuguese State, for tax revenue losses.