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Cigarettes discovered in pipes

PUBLISHED: 12:59 30 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

CUSTOMS officers in Ipswich have revealed they seized 47 million cigarettes in the past seven days, as tobacco barons attempted to smuggle them into the country.

CUSTOMS officers in Ipswich today revealed they have seized 47 million cigarettes in the past seven days, as tobacco barons attempted to smuggle them into the country.

The majority of the seizures, which are a record for a single week, happened at the Port of Felixstowe.

In total, seven container-loads of contraband cigarettes have been discovered at Britain's largest port since last Tuesday morning.

Other attempts to smuggle tobacco have been foiled at Harwich, Tilbury and Norwich Airport.

The cigarettes, which include brands such as Embassy Regal, Superkings, Benson & Hedges and Marlboro, have come from all over the world, including Scandinavia, China, the Middle East and South Africa, as well as Europe.

Some of the cigarettes have come in with no attempt to hide them but others have been hidden inside professional and sophisticated concealments, including a batch smuggled inside piping.

The potential revenue on these smuggled cigarettes is in excess of £6 million.

John Barber, regional customs spokesman said: "We've hit a rich vein to find so many cigarettes in such a short space of time.

"Apart from the headline figures of cigarettes by the container load, our people have also been tackling the problem on other fronts too. Thousands of cigarettes have been found at Norwich airport, from passengers, and we continue to tackle the small-time distributors in the towns and villages of the region, as we look to have an impact on all methods of smuggling.

"Some arrests have been made but the biggest impact on the Mafia-type gangs behind the majority of these attempts is the economic disruption we are causing them, taking out their profits."

If the 47 million cigarettes, which were in packets of 20, were put end to end they would stretch from Felixstowe to Cambridge and back again.

In addition to the cigarettes, customs officers in the region seized over 100 kilos of skunk weed (high quality cannabis) last week and recovered £87,000 in cash which is thought to be the proceeds of drug trafficking.

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