Tobacco Underground

Published — October 20, 2008 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

The secret factory: Take an undercover tour of Baltic Tobacco

ICIJ reporters pose as smugglers at a Jin Lin cigarette factory


Notorious as a haven for smugglers and money launderers, Kaliningrad, Russia, is not a place where it’s safe to ask many questions. In 2006, troops raided a local newspaper office that criticized the police for, among other things, protecting cigarette smugglers. In April 2008, ICIJ reporters went undercover to investigate the source of Europe’s “most disturbing” new development in contraband tobacco: Jin Ling cigarettes. Made in Kaliningrad by the Baltic Tobacco Factory, Jin Lings are flooding the black market across the European Union.

ICIJ reporters, carrying concealed video gear, posed as smugglers and set out to follow the Jin Ling trail.

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