ROMANIA: Twenty-six cylinders of refrigerant hidden in a minibus have been seized by Romanian border police as the illegal traffic across the border with Ukraine continues.
Yesterday, the border police intercepted a minibus driven by a 52-year-old woman with a double Romanian-Ukrainian license at the Siret border crossing point. Hidden inside were 26 refrigerant cylinders. While the customs authority has not revealed what refrigerants were involved, photos suggest some, if not all, was R134a. Photos also reveal Ukrainian packaging.
The refrigerant has been seized and a criminal case is being drawn up against the woman on possible charges of transporting and transiting dangerous substances and preparations and attempted qualified smuggling.
Ukraine border a target
This is the latest of a number of confiscations this year alone by Romanian authorities, many of them inbound from Ukraine.
In July, a person with dual Romanian-Ukrainian citizenship was stopped at the Siret border crossing in a Mercedes minibus with 14 refrigerant cylinders.
In May, border police officers in Vicovu de Sus stopped a Mercedes minibus, registered in Ukraine, with 22 cylinders of concealed refrigerant. The 58-year-old driver with dual Romanian-Ukrainian citizenship could not present supporting documents for the haul which comprised R134a, R507 and R404A.
On May 11, Sucevan border policemen discovered 144 refrigerant cylinders in another Ukrainian-registered Mercedes minibus at the Vicovu de Sus customs point. The border police filed a criminal case against the 48-year-old Ukrainian driver. Two days later, the same police were called upon to investigate a 44-year-old Portuguese citizen driving a Ukrainian-registered Mercedes-Benz Vito containing nine cylinders of concealed refrigerant.
On April 1, 12 refrigerant cylinders were seized in Vicovu de Sus from a Ukrainian-registered Mercedes Benz Sprinter driven by a 41-year-old man with dual Romanian and Ukrainian citizenship. Later the same month, Sucevan border police stopped a 34-year-old woman with dual Romanian-Ukrainian citizenship, who was transporting four refrigerant cylinders across the border in, what now appears to be the smuggler’s vehicle of choice, a Mercedes minibus.
Not all the illegal shipments are coming in via Ukraine. In July, a Moldovan national was found transporting four cylinders of refrigerant (again unspecified, but probably R410A) when stopped at the Stânca border crossing with Moldova. Then, just last month, a shipment of 1,140 cylinders of refrigerant from Turkey was stopped at the Black Sea port of Constanța.