Cigarette smugglers thwarted at port

SMUGGLERS have failed in their bid to sneak 329,000 cigarettes concealed under a shallow layer of stones through Felixstowe port.The crooks had hidden the Gin Ling cigarettes in a trailer which arrived from Vlaardingen in Holland.

Richard Cornwell

SMUGGLERS have failed in their bid to sneak 329,000 cigarettes concealed under a shallow layer of stones through Felixstowe port.

The crooks had hidden the Gin Ling cigarettes in a trailer which arrived from Vlaardingen in Holland.

Had the gang been successful in avoiding detection, they would have evaded nearly �53,000 in unpaid excise duty and VAT.

Customs officers - who have been trying to track down the smugglers for the past ten days since the consignment was unloaded on the quayside - said the load was described as “ships parts”.

Officers found cigarettes spread across 12 crates with each crate containing a top layer, just a few inches deep, of stones which concealed the packets of cigarettes underneath.

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Marc Owen, director of Border Force, Central Region, said: “The smugglers had provided such inadequate documentation that attention was immediately drawn to the consignment and the layer of stones did little to conceal the crates' true contents.

“It would be safe to say that our officers at Felixstowe have thwarted more sophisticated smuggling attempts over the years.

“The cigarettes were undoubtedly headed for the black market, cheating the British taxpayer and undermining honest traders.

“The people who operate in this trade also have no scruples about who they sell their products to, including children.”

It is believed the cigarettes, which arrived in the early hours of January 21, were destined for Birmingham.

The cigarettes, which originated in Latvia, will now be taken to an incinerator plant where they will be burned - and the energy fed straight into London's electricity supply.