PALERMO. His (official) job is that of a Coast Guard soldier serving in Palermo, but Bartolomeo Bertuglia, 53, originally from Campobello di Mazara, was off duty as a cigarette smuggler. The Guardia di Finanza blocked and arrested him at sea in recent days: he was carrying 1.5 tons of foreign tobaccos on a boat.
The blitz conducted by the military of the Provincial Command of Palermo, together with the Aeronavale Operational Department of Palermo and the Aeronavale Group of Cagliari, arranged as part of the device to combat illicit trafficking by sea and illegal immigration, was carried out in a few miles from the port of Marsala. On board the motorboat – which was seized – dozens and dozens of boxes of Pine Blue and Royals were found by the financiers which, according to the latest investigative findings, are imported from North Africa.
The operation was triggered after the financiers noticed the departure of a pleasure boat from the Marsala waters, on a day of bad weather and therefore completely unsuitable for a boat trip. At that point the motorboat was also followed by the aeronaval departments of the Guardia di Finanza who, a few hours later, identified the boat which, despite the very rough sea, was heading towards the coast at high speed. The blitz started, which led to the seizure of a large transport of smuggled cigarettes, worth 150 thousand euros.
Bertuglia ended up in prison and his arrest was validated by the judge for the preliminary investigations of the Court of Marsala Francesco Parrinello. “The Mediterranean – commented by the general command of the Fiamme Gialle – is confirmed as one of the world basins most affected by illicit trafficking”. In this scenario, the Guardia di Finanza carries out its role of “sea police”, being able to exploit the potential of an integrated device between the territorial investigative component and the air-sea, coastal and high-seas one, both for the control of external borders and for the defense of economic and financial interests.
The smuggling of cigarettes produces significant damage to the tax authorities: “It is estimated – explains Colonel Gianluca Angelini, commander of the economic-financial police unit – that every year the losses for the Italian State coffers, including VAT and excise duties, are between 700 and 800 million euros and even about 10 billion at the European Union level “. The brands seized are among the so-called “cheap whites”, that is cigarettes legally produced in some countries of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, not allowed for sale within the European Union, because they do not meet the standards of minimum security required by Community legislation “.