File this under “most inventive smuggling operation ever.” A group of smugglers wanted to get cheap vodka from Russia to Estonia without having to pay those silly EU taxes. So they built an underwater pipeline to funnel the spirits from one country to another:
TALLINN, Estonia (AFP) — Eleven suspects have been charged over a smuggling operation to pump vodka from Russia to Estonia via a two kilometre (one-mile) underwater pipeline, Estonian prosecutors said Tuesday.
“It might sound weird and unbelievable but it’s a very real criminal case,” Mari Luuk, spokeswoman for the Estonian Viru Circuit Prosecutor’s Office told AFP.
She said the 11, who included Russians and Estonians, were likely to go on trial soon and faced up to five years in prison if convicted.
The illegal pipeline was submerged in a water reservoir located between Russia and Estonia near the north-eastern Estonian border town of Narva.
The operation was profitable as the price of vodka in Russia is nearly one third cheaper than in Estonia, a member of the European Union since May 2004.
The plan, genius though it may sound, lasted just a few months, from August until November 2004, although in that time they were able to save themselves a whopping 57,000 Euros in import taxes.
Apparently these men, who somehow managed to avoid capture for almost four years since the discovery of the illegal operation, face up to five years in jail. Although given the fact that they have an underwater vodka pipeline on their resumes, it may be difficult to keep these men in prison.
Eleven charged in Estonia for vodka smuggling via pipeline [AFP]
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