Romanian officials arrested for tobacco smuggling

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 4, 2011 11:39

 
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BUCHAREST, Romania — Romanian police have arrested 15 customs officials and border police on charges of taking bribes and involvement in cigarette smuggling.

A further 44 officials from Siret, on Romania's northern border with Ukraine, were currently detained, pending a court decision Friday on whether they will be arrested on the same charges.

Romania's Interior Ministry said it has been watching the officials for six months.

Cigarette smuggling  increased in recent years. Romania, a European Union member, has borders with Ukraine and Moldova and cheaper cigarettes arrive in the country from these areas.

Romania needs to show it has secure borders to be accepted into Europe's border-free Schengen area.

France and Germany oppose Romania and Bulgaria's immediate entry, citing corruption.

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