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Romanian authorities arrest cigarette smugglers

April 19, 2010

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BUCHAREST, Romania—Romanian authorities say they have arrested nine people who smuggled cigarettes from Moldova to Romania.

Border police official Marcel Antohe says Monday the smugglers have been under surveillance for four months. They used boats to bring 144,000 packs of cigarettes worth 1.3 million lei (320,000 euros; $431,000) into Romania over the River Prut which forms the border between the countries.

Cigarette smuggling has sharply increased since the government put extra taxes on tobacco last year. Tobacco companies claim one in three cigarettes are counterfeit or smuggled.

Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, has among the cheapest cigarette prices in the 27-nation bloc -- roughly 2.50 euros ($3.40) per pack.