MOSCOW — A cheese-smuggling gang that netted around $30 million by illegally importing the foodstuff has been smashed, Russian police said Tuesday.
Some 470 tons of cheese was seized during the raid, according to a statement from Moscow police. If convicted, six suspects face up to a decade behind bars.
President Vladimir Putin’s government introduced a Prohibition-style ban on most Western food last year in retaliation for sanctions imposed against Russia over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and alleged meddling in the war in that country’s east.
Police said the cheese had been repackaged and was being passed off as being of higher quality than it actually was. Officials did not say when or where the raid had taken place.
“It was established that since March, cheese rennet banned for imports to Russia was brought to the Moscow region,” police spokeswoman Yelena Alexeyeva said in a video released by the Interior Ministry. “The goods were reorganized at the warehouses and given fake labels of the world’s leading producers of natural cheeses.”
Russian authorities recently bulldozed or burned more than 600 tons of sanctions-defying food contraband.