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The sad state of a Russian border road led smugglers to secretly upgrade it

Trucks wait in a line to cross a highway about 19 miles south of Moscow on Dec. 3, 2015. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
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Russian smugglers were apparently so dismayed by the quality of the roads along their routes that they took it upon themselves to repair and improve them.

According to TASS News Agency, criminal gangs smuggling goods into Russia repaired a dirt road in the Smolensk region so that it could be used by heavy vehicles that were being used to smuggle goods. Alexander Laznenko of the Russian Border Guard told TASS that the unidentified group had expanded the road and added more turning and passing points.

The road, which connected Russia with Belarus, could be used to avoid border checkpoints, Laznenko said. It has now been placed under surveillance as his agency doesn't have the authority to dig it up.

Sergey Listopadov, a regional administrator, told RIA Novosti that local residents had seen cars driving toward the area with what appeared to be building materials, though no one seems sure who they are — when residents asked what they were doing, they said that they were working for a "businessman."

Listopadov joked that he'd have to write a "letter of thanks" for the people who repaired the road.

Smugglers have significantly increased their trips from Belarus into Russia over the past year, Laznenko told TASS, due to a ban on food imports from the European Union implemented by Russia last year. More than 73,000 vehicles had been checked on the border during the past year, TASS reports. In August, one convoy was found to be carrying 175 tons of apples, peaches, plums and cherries from Poland that were worth almost $200,000.

Authorities quickly destroyed that haul once it was discovered. Russian laws maintain that smuggled goods must be destroyed and the destruction should be photographed and videotaped, in case the foodstuffs are stolen.

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