Customs seize smuggled cigarettes

SUFFOLK'S customs officers today revealed they had seized two million illegal cigarettes concealed in consignment of personal effects.The contraband was discovered at Felixstowe docks after the property was shipped in from South Africa.

SUFFOLK'S customs officers today revealed they had seized two million illegal cigarettes concealed in consignment of personal effects.

The contraband was discovered at Felixstowe docks after the property was shipped in from South Africa.

The cigarettes were in a container behind several lots of the effects belonging to the deceased.

The cargo arrived on the MSC Donata, which had begun its journey in Durban.

Felixstowe's customs officers swooped after receiving information from law enforcement colleagues in South Africa.

The tip-off came after a man was arrested in the country on suspicion of being involved in smuggling contraband.

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The cigarettes, which arrived at Felixstowe, were tightly packed and took up nearly two-thirds of the container they were hidden in. The personal effects were placed in front of them to disguise the load.

HM Customs believe the amount of government duty being evaded on the illicit cargo came to nearly £400,000.

Various brands of cigarettes were among the stash which was discovered.

It is not known at present if the smokes are genuine or counterfeit and a sample has been sent to the government laboratories for testing.

Inquiries to track down the racketeers in Britain have been going on since the cigarettes were found on August 31.

Chris Webb, who leads a strike team in Ipswich and is acting head of criminal investigation, said: “We would encourage any member of the public to contact us if they suspect that goods come from an illegal source no matter how trivial the information is.

“Not only does this type of criminal activity have a detrimental effect on the local economy by depriving local shopkeepers of legitimate income but if the cigarettes are counterfeit the chemicals used can cause a great deal of harm when smoked.

“Our 24-hour confidential hotline number is 0800 59 5000."

N Has your business been affected by black marketeers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

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