Team smashes smuggling plot

A SPECIALIST team of customs officers trained to work in potentially hazardous areas have seized more than 130,000 cigarettes at Felixstowe port.Known as the deep rummage team, the UK Border Agency officers foiled a plot to smuggled contraband through the docks when they discovered 131,400 cigarettes concealed on a boat.

A SPECIALIST team of customs officers trained to work in potentially hazardous areas have seized more than 130,000 cigarettes at Felixstowe port.

Known as the deep rummage team, the UK Border Agency officers foiled a plot to smuggled contraband through the docks when they discovered 131,400 cigarettes concealed on a boat.

At first they found 29,000 cigarettes hidden in a life jacket locker on the vessel's deck.

However, as the search continued the officers went on to discover further illegal caches in the forward crane and deckhouse, the lower pipe tunnel and in the cross-deck pipe tunnels.

Although these seizures are not as large as some discovered at Felixstowe in recent months, they represent a cunning way of attempting to evade over �25,000 in lost duty.

The majority of the contraband seized were Bon cigarettes, bearing a striking resemblance to a well-known brand on sale in the UK.

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Jim Jarvie from the UKBA said: “The work that these detection officers undertake illustrates yet another aspect of how smugglers attempt to bring their illegal tobacco products into the UK.

“This specialist team has considerable expertise in finding and extracting contraband from unlikely and potentially hazardous concealment anywhere on board a vessel.

“These illegal activities undermine honest retailers in the local area and could contain harmful chemicals because they come from a completely un-regulated source.”

No arrests have been made as yet following the seizure which arrived at the port on March 4, however inquiries are still ongoing.

Anyone with information on those involved in smuggling activities should telephone the UKBA's 24-hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.