German officials confirm that contraband cigarettes laced with Strontium 90, which is used in nuclear weapons, were intercepted at a Warsaw airport in June. Was it a personal attack?
MUNICH — After contaminated cigarettes were intercepted in Poland last June, German customs offices were warned last month that the shipment could actually be radioactive.
A spokesman for the German Customs Investigation Bureau in Cologne said Sunday that customs agents have been notified to be on the lookout for such perilous merchandise.
Meanwhile, Germany's Federal Ministry of Finance said it had no indication that any of the poisoned tobacco had reached Germany, and that it was possible that the shipment constituted a targeted attack on specific people.
The Finance Ministry, which is responsible for customs affairs, confirmed a piece in the Bild am Sonntag, which reported that packets of cigarettes were found in a crate of frozen crab at the Warsaw Airport on June 9. The cigarettes were contaminated with Strontium 90, an isotope which is used in nuclear weapons. If inhaled, it can lead to fatal poisoning.
Authorities do not know if the cigarettes were meant for the German market, though they confirm that typical warning labels ("Smoking kills") and excise stamps on the packages were written in German and Polish.
The crate was with a Vietnamese passenger who had flown from Vietnam to Warsaw via Paris. Investigators said that the man had been asked in Vietnam if he could take the crate with him and give it to a contact person in Poland.
The German press agency DPA reported that the quantity of cigarettes found was too small to suggest a broad-based attack. In Poland, the investigation is being handled by the police department's section for terrorism and capital crimes. Interpol was informed of the shipment in August.