A Mexican-style tunnel has been unearthed by the Slovak police along the Slovakia-Ukraine border leading all the way to the town of Uzhgorod from the villages of Vyšné Nemecké and Nižné Nemecké in Slovakia, interior minister Robert Kalinak revealed at a press conference today, accompanied by police commissioner Tibor Gaspar, finance minister Peter Kazimir and head of the Financial Crime Office, Jozef Luteran.
The tunnel six metres underground was being used to smuggle contraband tobacco, but could easily also have been used as a route of passage for illegal immigrants. As part of the raid, the police confiscated over 13,000 cartons of cigarettes, and although there is no way of knowing just how much the state has lost on excise, it is estimated by the authorities at around EUR 50 million a year. Finance minister Kazimir praised the level of collaboration with Ukrainian authorities, saying it was unprecedented.
Built like a mining shaft, the tunnel spanning over 700 metres with a trolley system for shunting the contraband goods went from a kind of loading bay in Slovakia to a house on the outskirts of Uzhgorod. So far just two people have been arrested, but the police are tracking down others as the operation involved a large team, which the police have been monitoring for some time.