Nearly 50million cigarettes seized

SMUGGLERS have been counting the cost after customs officers seized nearly 50million cigarettes from Felixstowe in the last six weeks.In April, more than 28.

SMUGGLERS have been counting the cost after customs officers seized nearly 50million cigarettes from Felixstowe in the last six weeks.

In April, more than 28.5m counterfeit cigarettes were found and by mid-May HM Revenue and Customs officers had already discovered a further 20m. The duty lost is estimated to be more than £6m.

The seizures included:

nAn estimated 4.2m counterfeit cigarettes discovered in a cargo described as polyester satin cloth on April 26.

nOn April 28 officers found a concealment in the base of leather footrests from China. When officers removed the panels from the stools they found 3m fake Super King Blue cigarettes.

nThe next day an estimated 3m Super King cigarettes arrived in cargo described as foot rests.

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nOn May 10, a container load documented as hot dip galvanised steel coils turned out to be an estimated 2.5 million illegal cigarettes.

nIn the latest seizure on May 19 officers discovered 5m counterfeit cigarettes. They were described as hand towels and were destined for markets in the North East of England.

Kevin Sayer, detection manager at Felixstowe, said: “This illegal activity should be condemned by the public.

“Not only are counterfeit cigarettes more dangerous to health due to their unregulated chemical content, but smokers who think wrongly they are getting a bargain don't realise that this trade damages honest businesses, costs billions in lost revenue and lines the pockets of criminals instead of funding public services.

“Cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting is an organised crime, as these seizures demonstrate, often linked to money laundering and drugs.”

Anyone with any information on suspicious activities that may be linked to tobacco smuggling is asked to call HM Revenue and Customs' 24-hour confidential hotline 0800 595000.

n. What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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