Customs seize smuggled cigarettes

CUSTOMS officers are today hunting racketeers who tried to smuggle millions of cigarettes into the country through Felixstowe.

CUSTOMS officers are today hunting racketeers who tried to smuggle millions of cigarettes into the country through Felixstowe.

The plot was foiled after the shipment arrived at the Port of Felixstowe from the far east.

Organised crime gangs, who flood the black market with cheap cigarettes, are believed to be behind the attempt at evading the government duty on the illegal cargo.

Officers at the docks discovered the contraband after it arrived from Shanghai in China.


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Although described in documentation as earthenware and pottery, customs workers were suspicious about the load.

When they opened the 20-foot container, they discovered the cover load was false and no such items were inside.

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Instead officers found four million counterfeit cigarettes.

The importation arrived at Felixstowe docks on February 23, but was opened late last week. If it had been cleared through customs, it would have been taken to London.

Its final destination was thought to be the markets in Edgware, Middlesex.

Maddy Ratnett, spokeswoman for HM Customs, said: “This recent seizure of counterfeit cigarettes is the latest in our efforts to stop this serious and organised crime which often provides the funding for much larger criminal operations such as drug smuggling or people trafficking.

“If you are offered cheap fags remember that they are likely to be counterfeit, they come from an unregulated source and can contain harmful chemicals which can damage your health. Smuggling is also a crime against local shopkeepers as it takes away income from them and damages the local economy.

“If you have any information on any illegal activity you can telephone our 24 hour confidential hot line on 0800 59 5000."

The illegal cigarettes were just one of a number of seizures made at the port this year.

In late January one of the largest ever illicit consignments of hand-rolling tobacco to be found in the UK - 9.6 tonnes -was seized.

It was discovered in a container which originated in Malaysia.

Although described as furniture, there was only tobacco inside.

Its intended destination was Sudbury.

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