In January, the State Revenue Service (SRS) Tax and Customs Police Department completed a series of investigations and revealed and shut down a group involved in marijuana growing and trafficking operations. Five individuals are suspected to be involved, two of whom are being held for questioning.
The individuals were growing the narcotics in a specialized grow operation in Riga region in which all the necessary machinery had been installed: heating and irrigation systems, air conditioning, power supply, etc. The marijuana was being trafficked throughout Latvia.
During the search, police removed all the equipment needed for growing cannabis:
- ~240 plants of various size (the longest was 135 cm) totaling ~20kg of undried marijuana;
- 2210 g dried marijuana (the amount analysed by experts; analysis continues and the total amount is expected to increase);
- 2 pistols - PM (Makarova), pistol TT, automatic (Kalashnikov type);
- 454 cartridges;
- A home-made bomb (a device with wires and a brown-coloured substance – sent for expert explosive device analysis); and
- cash ~ 9000 EUR.
Criminal proceedings for growing and trafficking narcotics have begun in accordance with paragraphs 253 and 256 in the Criminal Law on organized crime. Specific charges may be amended as the investigation proceeds.
Tax and Customs Police Department results for 2018 and priorities for 2019
In 2018, the Tax and Customs Police Department uncovered and stopped operations of 17 organized crime groups; a total of 1371 criminal investigations were initiated of which 192 dealt with tax issues and 1179 – customs violations. This resulted in 241 criminal proceedings: 113 tax cases and 128 customs cases. Investigation results uncovered a total of 2,663,202 EUR in illegal proceeds, which was transferred into the State budget.
Priorities for 2019 include prevention of money laundering, control of cash movements across the country’s border, and control of drug shipments through the postal service, which is widespread among youth.