Eight million suspected illicit cigarettes, worth an estimated £3 million in lost duty and taxes, were seized yesterday (30 May) in Newry, Co Armagh, by HM Revenue and Customs.
A heavy goods vehicle and its refrigerated unit, a van and a fork-lift truck were also seized along with approximately £12,000 and €2,000. Three men, aged 34, 37 and 55, were arrested and are in police custody.
The operation led to a further eight searches across the border carried out by the Joint Agency Task Force’s revenue commissioners and Ireland’s national police service An Garda Síochána. Almost €100,000 euros, thousands of duty stamps, 1,910 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco and 2.5 tonnes of raw tobacco were confiscated from two residential properties in Carlingford, Co Louth.
Steve Tracey, assistant director, fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: “HMRC and our partner agencies are continuing to work together and are prepared to deploy where necessary to disrupt and dismantle the illicit trade of tobacco and other forms of criminality.
“Our collaboration, even during a global pandemic, demonstrates that we are committed to working with each other, at every level and in every location to tackle organised crime on a cross-border basis.”
Detective Superintendent Rowan Moore, from Police Service NI’s criminal investigation branch, added: “We are committed to working alongside our partner agencies to combat the illicit trade of illegal tobacco and put those who seek to profit from criminality before the courts.
“Those trading in illicit cigarettes may be funding terrorism and criminality which brings misery and harm to local communities and today’s action sends a powerful message to those engaged in this type of criminality.”
Tel: HMRC Fraud Hotline (0800) 788887
Published Date: May 31, 2020