Illegal cigs seized in port swoop

CUSTOMS officers at Felixstowe have seized 18 million illegal cigarettes which were being smuggled into the country for the black market.

CUSTOMS officers at Felixstowe have seized 18 million illegal cigarettes which were being smuggled into the country for the black market.

The duty being evaded on the haul was around £4 million.

The cigarettes were discovered in two containers that arrived from Dubai earlier in the year.

The contraband was described as “disposable plastic goods” but when customs officers opened the loads they found the containers crammed full of mixed brand cigarettes that were intended for the London markets.

Maddy Ratnett from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said: “This is a large seizure of illegal cigarettes that without the intervention of officers would have flooded our streets.

“A vital part of HMRC's work is to protect the interests of honest shopkeepers by preventing commercial smuggling and the onward transport and sale of illegal cigarettes.

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“HMRC are keen to work closely with people and the business communities in the fight against cigarette fraud.

“I would urge any member of the public, who knows of any illegal tobacco sales or suspicious activity in their area, to contact us on our 24-hour confidential helpline - 0845 59 5000.”

Inquiries into the seizure and who is behind the smuggling operation are ongoing.

All illegal tobacco products seized are recycled and the tobacco is burnt towards power for the national grid.

Would it be better to sell the illegal cigarettes and give the money to charity? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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