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470 Tons of Smuggled Cheese Seized in Moscow, Russian Police Say

Russian Police Smash Cheese Smuggling Ring 0:47

MOSCOW — A cheese-smuggling gang that netted around $30 million by illegally importing the foodstuff has been smashed, Russian police said Tuesday.

Image: Seized cheese
Some of the cheese seized by Moscow police. NBC News

Some 470 tons of cheese was seized during the raid, according to a statement from Moscow police. If convicted, six suspects face up to a decade behind bars.

President Vladimir Putin's government introduced a Prohibition-style ban on most Western food last year in retaliation for sanctions imposed against Russia over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and alleged meddling in the war in that country's east.

Police said the cheese had been repackaged and was being passed off as being of higher quality than it actually was. Officials did not say when or where the raid had taken place.

Image: Suspect arrested in illegal cheese bust
Moscow police detain one of six alleged members of a cheese-smuggling gang who face up to a decade in prison for sneaking the food into Russia. NBC News

"It was established that since March, cheese rennet banned for imports to Russia was brought to the Moscow region," police spokeswoman Yelena Alexeyeva said in a video released by the Interior Ministry. "The goods were reorganized at the warehouses and given fake labels of the world's leading producers of natural cheeses."

Russian authorities recently bulldozed or burned more than 600 tons of sanctions-defying food contraband.

FROM AUG. 11: Russia Presses Ahead With Banned Food Destruction 0:32