Smuggling 6 tons of tobacco in artificial pebbles. September 18, 2023/Tax Authority Spokesperson
Customs inspectors at Ashdod Port seized six tons of hookah tobacco smuggled into Israel this week in artificial pebbles and other garden products, the Israel Police announced Monday. An investigation has been opened against suspects suspected of involvement in smuggling, who allegedly tried to evade paying taxes worth NIS 2.5 million.
The suspicions of the customs workers were aroused when they examined a container that arrived at the port, which contained ornamental fountains, urns, decorative statues and pebbles. During the inspection, the workers noticed that some of the pebbles in the container were made of fiberglass, and were not natural, as stated in the import documents. As a result, they decided to break some of the pebbles and were surprised to find 600 grams of tobacco hidden in each.
6 tons of hookah tobacco smuggled into Israel were caught in artificial pebbles at Ashdod Port. 18 Stamber 2023/official website, Israel Tax Authority Spokesperson's Office
In July, a couple from Belgium was arrested on suspicion of smuggling 868 packets of cigarettes and another 1,430 units of tobacco into Israel, with a total value of about NIS 400,250. The total taxes on this quantity of cigarettes is about NIS 320,<>. The suitcases of the suspects were without an identification tag, apparently with the intention of misleading customs workers.
Four months earlier, the Tax Authority had thwarted the smuggling of four tons of hookah tobacco hidden in pavement stones. During an inspection at the Nitzana border crossing between Israel and Egypt, it was discovered that the stones manufactured at the factory in Egypt contained a suspicious IED that was allegedly inserted into them during production. When customs inspectors selected one stone for the sample and smashed it, they discovered a bag containing hookah tobacco inside.
Hookah tobacco is subject to sales tax in Israel at the same rate as on other types of tobacco – about NIS <> per kilogram. According to estimates, the total amount of tax they tried to evade payment is about four million shekels.
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