Customs swoop to seize drugs haul

SEVEN men face accusations of smuggling after customs officers swooped to seize drugs and cigarettes worth more than £2million.Five suspects are on bail today after an attempt to smuggle in seven million cigarettes through Felixstowe docks was foiled.

By Colin Adwent

SEVEN men face accusations of smuggling after customs officers swooped to seize drugs and cigarettes worth more than £2million.

Five suspects are on bail today after an attempt to smuggle in seven million cigarettes through Felixstowe docks was foiled.

The illegal consignment came in under a cargo described as rice noodles.

However, the cover load was only used to dupe authorities and the container only held the cigarettes, which are believed to have arrived from China.

The duty evaded had the smuggling plot succeeded is estimated at £1,225,000.

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After the container was opened at the port the seal was put back on intact to give the impression it had not been tampered with.

Covert surveillance officers from Ipswich tracked the unit to an industrial warehouse in Silvertown, east London before they pounced.

A spokeswoman for HM Customs said the five men arrested were taken into custody overnight on Tuesday.

After several hours of questioning they were released on bail.

The quintet must now report to Ipswich police station on June 26 to answer bail.

Meanwhile, two suspected drugs' mules are awaiting their next court hearings after being arrested and charged on suspicion of importing cocaine through Stansted Airport.

Ipswich-based officers are still pursuing their investigation after the arrests of Belgian national Yves Van Israel and Christian Pioge, a French national from west Africa.

Israel was taken into custody after customs officials discovered ten kilos of cocaine in the false bottom of a suitcase on April 30.

The street value of the class A drug is estimated at £500,000.

The 53-year-old had arrived at the Essex airport from Lyons in France. He is currently remanded in custody until his next court hearing.

Pioge was arrested on Sunday after a further ten kilos of cocaine was found in the false bottom of another suitcase.

He had arrived at Stansted after travelling from West Africa via Casablanca and Lyon.

Pioge has also been remanded in custody. His next court hearing is due on Monday.

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