U.S. District Court Dismisses EU Complaint against Tobacco Companies for Alleged Smuggling, Tax, and RICO Violations

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Wednesday, May 1, 2002
Bruce Zagaris
On February 19, 2002, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis granted the motions to dismiss by tobacco industry entities against a complaint brought by the European Community, various individual member nations of the EC, and Departments of the national of Colombia. Plaintiffs alleged that defendant tobacco industry companies had been actively involved in smuggling contraband cigarettes into the EC, the Member States, and the Departments, as well as various other locations around the world, for many years. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants entered into an agreement with distributors, customers, agents, consultants and other co-conspirators to participate in a common scheme to smuggle contraband cigarettes into the EC, the Member States, and the Departments; that Defendants conspired with other persons to promote and conceal their smuggling activities by means including among other things, fixing the price of contraband cigarettes, and that in the process of smuggling cigarettes, Defendants engaged the business and services of narcotics traffickers and the money launderers and facilitated or engaged in the laundering of tainted money. Plaintiffs alleged they suffered economic harm in the form of lost tax revenues and other costs attributable to rampant illegal activities. Plaintiffs alleged Defendants agreed with co-conspirators to commit tortious acts and did commit such acts in conducting the smuggling scheme. Plaintiffs demand monetary, declarative, and injunctive relief to remedy the alleged wrongs.