Russian police say they have arrested six people on charges of running an international smuggling ring that brought contraband foreign cheese products worth about 2 billion rubles ($30 million) into Russia.
Police in St. Petersburg say they also seized 470 tons of materials used to produce cheese, along with counterfeit labeling equipment.
Authorities were enforcing a 2014 Kremlin ban on Western cheese and other agricultural products that was imposed in retaliation for U.S. and European Union sanctions over Russia’s role in Ukraine’s conflict.
In recent weeks, in tacit acknowledgment that the ban has been widely violated, Russia’s agricultural oversight agency Rosselkhoznadzor has been publicizing the destruction of tons of contraband food.
Televised images of cheese being bulldozed by Russian authorities has stirred up anger among ordinary Russians suffering from economic hardships that have worsened as a result of the international sanctions.