Smuggled cigarettes spark investigation
SUFFOLK customs officers are today on the trail of international racketeers who attempted to smuggle ten million cigarettes through Felixstowe dock.Ipswich-based investigators set up two covert surveillance operations when the contraband arrived at the Suffolk port in separate consignments within days of each other.
SUFFOLK customs officers are today on the trail of international racketeers who attempted to smuggle ten million cigarettes through Felixstowe dock.
Ipswich-based investigators set up two covert surveillance operations when the contraband arrived at the Suffolk port in separate consignments within days of each other.
In total eight and a half million counterfeit cigarettes, worth slightly more than £1.5m, arrived in Felixstowe.
Both batches originated in China, although the cargoes were destined for different parts of the UK and are not though to have been linked.
The latest load came in via a container, which according to the manifest had toilet rolls within it.
However after it arrived at the port customs officers checked the cargo and discovered four million cigarettes destined for the black market.
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A covert operation was set up after the contraband was discovered on September 15 and investigators from Ipswich were involved along with colleagues from elsewhere in the country. They trailed a lorry and the container to a warehouse in Wolverhampton, where they swooped to seize the contraband on September 20.
A few days before this shipment arrived at Felixstowe another container was unloaded at the docks after it arrived via Dubai from China.
Four and a half million cigarettes were discovered inside it, hidden among a consignment of nappies.
Another surveillance operation was set up and the cargo tracked down to the White Hart Lane area of London, where it was emptied into a warehouse before customs investigators swooped to seize it.
International criminal cartels smuggle cigarettes into Britain in order to flood the black market and meet the demand for cheap fags.
Two of the biggest players in the global racketeering market are the former Soviet Union states and China.
It is not uncommon for the cigarettes to be counterfeit and put in boxes with well-known brand names on them.
The constituents of many of the counterfeit cigarettes could be even more harmful than the components of brand-name fags.
Avoiding the government duty on tobacco means they can be sold more cheaply than in the shops, which has a big impact on the profit margins of small traders selling legitimate cigarettes.