Connect with us

Articles

Thieves steal seized tobacco after UK officials boast about haul on YouTube

Published

on

record haul of 9.5 million smuggled cigarettes

Thieves have stolen a large quantity of seized illicit tobacco after the UK trade organisation that confiscated it boasted about discovering the haul in a YouTube video.

It is thought eagle-eyed criminals were able to pick up clues as to the location of the seized contraband from the clip, during which Trading Standards officers bragged about their efforts to rid the streets of the English county of Cumbria of counterfeit and smuggled tobacco products.

The video – in which Cumbria Trading Standards officials proudly showed off the £10,000 ($13,855} haul and said the seizure sent out a strong message to tobacco smugglers – showed the shipping container in which the tobacco products were being stored next to two very distinctive vehicles painted in the red and yellow livery of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.

Days after officials posted the video, which showed multiple bags of cigarettes and rolling tobacco awaiting destruction, thieves cut a large hole in the side of the container and made off with everything inside.

In a statement, a Cumbria County Council spokesperson said: “I can confirm the cigarettes that were stolen were the ones seized during the Trading Standards and police operation just before Christmas. The container is no longer in use for storage of seized goods.”

The stolen tobacco products were seized last year as part of Operation Ash, a joint effort led by Cumbria County Council’s Trading Standards officers and local police that had been considered a success before its spoils were taken.

The majority of the tobacco products seized during the crackdown were thought to be counterfeit, produced illegally by organised crime gangs or parties other than the original copyright holder.

Counterfeit cigarettes, many of which that are sold in the UK are made in illegal factories in Russia and Eastern Europe, are typically significantly more harmful than genuine tobacco products.

As well as containing a significantly higher level of carcinogens than real cigarettes and rolling tobacco, counterfeit tobacco products have been known to be made up of asbestos, human waste dead flies and mould.

Sixty-two percent of all illegal tobacco consumption in Europe took place in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Poland between 2015 and 2016, according to a study conducted by KPMG for the Royal United Services Institute.

In all, 48.3 billion counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes were consumed across Europe in 2016, which is estimated to have lost governments €10.2 billion in tax revenues.

Cathy Haenlein, Research Fellow for Serious and Organised Crime at RUSI, commented: “[T]he profits to be made [from counterfeit and smuggled tobacco] can be just as significant as those attached to higher-risk crime.

“With low production costs, illicit cigarettes are lightweight and easy to transport, yet retain a high sale value and consistent consumer demand.”

Continue Reading

Articles

US citizens spent $150 billion on cannabis, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth in 2016

Published

on

US citizens spent $150 billion on cannabis, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth

A new report published by non-profit research organisation RAND has revealed that US citizens spent almost $150 billion on cannabis, cocaine, heroin and crystal methamphetamine in 2016.

The study, titled What America’s Users Spend on Illegal Drugs, also found that the US cannabis market is approximately the same size as the cocaine and methamphetamine markets combined, and that America’s retail heroin trade has grown to become closer to the size of the cannabis market than it is to those for other illcit substances.

Some 2.4 million Americans used cocaine on four or more days over the course of one month between 2015 and 2016, while heroin consumption across the country increased by around 10% every 12 months between 2010 and 2016, according to the report.

The report noted that the introduction and spread of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanyl had increased the risk attached to taking heroin and complicated researchers’ analysis of the market over the study period.

RAND discovered that the lion’s share of money spent on drugs in the US comes from a relatively small number of people who use illicit substances on a daily or almost daily basis.

Researchers also said that while national data sets on the consumption of methamphetamine in the US are poor, an increase in the number of seizures of the drug across the country and at its southwest border with Mexico between 2007 and 2016 tallied with a rise in usage over the same period.

The report recommended that the federal government reintroduce Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) to help researchers better map and understand patterns in the usage of illegal substances such as methamphetamine and fentanyl.

It also noted that wastewater analysis is another good approach for estimating drug consumption across the US, observing that such testing has been used effectively in other countries such as Australia, which publishes the results of wastewater drug analysis annually.

Commenting on the findings of the study, Greg Midgette, the report’s lead author who serves as an assistant professor at the University of Maryland and an adjunct policy researcher at RAND, said: “To better understand changes in drug use outcomes and the effects of policies, policymakers need to know what is happening in markets for these substances.

“But it is challenging to generate these estimates, and given that critical data sources have been eliminated, it will likely be harder to generate these figures in the future.”

Continue Reading

Articles

Customs officers in Guinea provided with training on how to use Interpol border security tools

Published

on

Interpol border security tools

As part of its ongoing efforts to bolster the abilities of law enforcement agencies in West Africa, Interpol has led a border security operation in the region intended to highlight the importance of targeting individuals attempting to use counterfeit travel papers.

Operation Stop kicked off with a two-day training course at the end of July during which border security officials in Guinea were taught how to use a number of Interpol resources such as the global policing agency’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database.

The resource is intended to help investigators across the globe check the validity of travel documents in seconds, allowing them to quickly identify incidents of document fraud, detect individuals attempting to travel illegally, and crack down on illicit cross-border financial flows.

As part of the initiative, Interpol extended access to its I-24/7 secure police communication system to security officials at the international airport in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, as well as to other law enforcement units outside the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB), allowing them direct access to the organisation’s criminal databases.

After initial training sessions, Interpol oversaw two days of live operations at the airport, which involved border officers screening passengers using the tools they had been taught how to operate.

Local officials were also encouraged to run passenger details from the previous month’s flights though the database to reinforce the skills and knowledge they had acquired.

After conducting over 23,000 checks, border force officers at the airport identified three positive “hits” against documents recorded in the SLTD database.

Harald Arm, Interpol Director of Operational Support and Analysis, commented: “Police are just one piece of the border security puzzle.

“Access to the right tools at the right locations, the skills to use them effectively and coordination with other relevant law enforcement agencies, must all combine to ensure countries can best protect their borders.

“Activities such as Operation Stop which bring all these aspects together and encourage cooperation nationally, regionally and globally will have a lasting positive impact on border security throughout West Africa.”

Earlier this month, Interpol announced that it had headed up a separate border control operation in West Africa that resulted in the rescue of over 100 suspected victims of human trafficking, including 35 children.

This followed a similar Interpol-led effort in the region back in April, which saw almost 220 suspected human trafficking victims being identified and rescued in Benin and Nigeria.

Continue Reading

Articles

A quarter of all CDs ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ in US are counterfeit, RIAA warns

Published

on

CDs ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ in the US are counterfeit

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has claimed that 25% of all CDs “fulfilled by Amazon” in the US are counterfeit.

A recent sample purchase programme conducted by the RIAA, which represents major labels that are responsible for the creation, manufacture, distribution or sale of 85% of all legitimately recorded music produced in the US, also found that 100% of new “high-quality box sets offered for sale through eBay or AliExpress in the US were counterfeit”.

The exercise revealed that 11% of new CDs offered for sale on Amazon were fake, and 16% of new CDs sold on eBay were bogus.

Publishing the findings of its sample purchase programme, the RIAA said it had also observed the sale of fake “best of” or “greatest hits” CDs or vinyl that purport to be from major record label artists on these platforms, even when the labels in question had never released such albums.

The association said it continues to see a high number of incidents in which its members branding has been used without permission on multiple ecommerce platforms, including Amazon, eBay, Redbubble and Bonanza.

“These infringements not only undermine revenues from legitimate sources to music creators and owners, they also harm the reputation and goodwill associated with the artists, brands or logos at issue,” the RIAA said.

“This harm is exacerbated by limited and inconsistent enforcement by online third-party marketplaces and other intermediaries to address counterfeit listings and sellers of counterfeit products.”

Responding to the RIAA’s findings in a statement given to Digital Music News, Amazon said: “Our customers expect that when they make a purchase through Amazon’s store—either directly from Amazon or from one of its millions of third-party sellers—they will receive authentic products.

“Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products and we invest heavily in both funds and company energy to ensure our policy is followed.”

Last month, research conducted by anti-piracy and counterfeit protection firm Red Points revealed that the number of items buyers believe to be fake sold on Amazon rises by a third during the company’s annual Prime Day event.

Earlier in July, Amazon announced the expansion of its flagship anti-counterfeiting Transparency programme to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, India and Canada.

First launched in the US back in March 2017, the initiative allows companies to apply unique T-shaped QR-style codes to their products, which can be used by customers, brands, Amazon and other participants in the supply chain to authenticate items being offered for sale.

 

Continue Reading

Newsletter

Sign up for our mailing list to receive updates and information on events

Social Widget

Latest articles

Press review

Follow us on Twitter

Trending

Shares