A family-run trafficking ring flogging cheap cigarettes and vodka has been exposed by a police sniffer dog.
The Belgian Shepherd helped police confiscate untaxed cigarettes, alcohol and weapons worth more than GBP 150,000 in western Germany.
The racket was being run by a 49-year-old man, his wife, a friend and his 74-year-old mum to resell fags and vodka they had trafficked into the country, reports local media.
Custom officials in Essen, North-Rhine Westphalia, searched four buildings in Duisburg, Oberhausen and Bottrop cities on the 20th and 27th September.
Investigations against the 49-year-old suspected ringleader began in March.
Officers confiscated 180,000 untaxed cigarettes, 192 litres of untaxed Russian vodka and a loaded gun as well as a knife, 50 grammes of hashish, a taser and EUR 3,000 (GBP 2,623) in cash, according to Essen Customs spokeswoman Heike Sennewald.
The suspects’ identities and nationalities have been withheld by the authorities due to Germany’s strict privacy regulations.
Spokeswoman Sennewald underlined the significance of the participation of three-year-old detection dog Joep.
The Belgian Shepherd – normally based with Cologne Customs – was deployed to support the operation in the Essen area.
Sennewald said: “Investigators found out that the 37-year-old suspect hid the untaxed cigarettes not at his Oberhausen apartment but in the cellar compartments of neighbours.
“Joep – who is specialised in tracking down tobacco, was taken there to support our team. He quickly discovered more than 12,000 cigarettes in two neighbours’ cellar compartments.”
The seized goods are worth EUR 190,000 (GBP 166,112), according to the spokeswoman.
Essen customs authorities and the Essen state prosecution are continuing their investigations.
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Story By: Thomas Hochwarter, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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