Big Tobacco Smuggling

During 2000 and 2001, a team of reporters from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists broke a series of landmark stories exposing how leading tobacco companies worked with criminal networks to smuggle cigarettes around the world.

Relying on interviews with insiders and thousands of internal industry documents, the unique team - based in six countries - pieced together how smuggling played a key role in big tobacco's strategy to boost sales and increase market share. Those revelations, and others that followed, helped prompt lawsuits and government inquiries, and led to promises of a global crackdown on the illegal trade in tobacco.

The series was reprinted or written about in more than 40 publications in 10 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, the U.K., and the United States.

Here are Duncan's contributions to the ICIJ 'Big Tobacco Smuggling' series, from its first stories in 2000 on industry involvement in smuggling to the exposés of 2001 revealing big tobacco’s collusion with Colombian drug cartels, the Italian Mafia, and North American motorcycle gangs. The full investigation can be found on the ICIJ website - links are on the right-hand side.

Duncan's stories

Other links

Exposed: How billions of cigarettes end up on black markets

After a nine-month investigation, the reporters of the ICIJ reveal, with documentation, how major tobacco multinationals implicated in cigarette smuggling and tax evasion

31 January, 2000 | Click here to read more

News report 4 news report about the UK BAT hearings


Luk Joosens WHO tobacco expert talks to ICIJ




Click to read about the 'Big Tobacco Smuggling' project


Click to read the ICIJ's later investigation in the smuggling trade, Tobacco Underground


Duncan also contributed to 'Making a Killing' investigation. Click here to read more


The Campbell report on British American Tobacco

by J.A de la Cruz

How smuggling helps lure generations of new smokers

Documents made public through lawsuits in the US reveal how executives of British-based tobacco giant BAT sought to manage cigarette black markets in the drive to increase profits

31 January, 2000 | Click here to read more

U.K. considering formal investigation into cigarette smuggling

The British government is considering launching an in-depth investigation into "extremely serious" allegations of international tobacco smuggling by giant tobacco multinational BAT (British American Tobacco).

15 June, 2000 | Click here to read more

Tobacco companies linked to criminal organizations in lucrative cigarette smuggling

A year-long investigation by the ICIJ shows that tobacco company officials at BAT, Philip Morris, and R.J. Reynolds have worked closely with companies and individuals directly connected to organized crime

3 March, 2001 | Click here to read more

Clarke company faces new smuggling claims

Kenneth Clarke, currently embroiled in an acrimonious bid for the Tory leadership, faces major embarrassment through connection with cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco.

22 August, 2001 | Click here to read more

Whistleblower who asked too many questions faced company's wrath

He was sacked at the end of 1999. In the ensuing row, the company, Romar Freezone Trading, accused him of incompetence, fraud, alcoholism and blackmail. Attempts were made to threaten him and, he says, to set him up on assault or drugs possession charges.

22 August, 2001 | Click here to read more

The multi-million dollar trade route's Kenneth Clarke was called before the Commons all-party health committee, chaired by Labour MP David Hinchliffe, after the original disclosure that BAT stood accused of complicity in cigarette smuggling.

22 August, 2001 | Click here to read more


How Clarke defended company

When Kenneth Clarke formally became deputy chairman of BAT in 1998, one of the firm's exclusive distributors, Romar Freezone Trading, was smuggling at least $12m worth of cigarettes a month.

22 August, 2001 | Click here to read more