11 arrests as suspected
illicit tobacco factory is dismantled
11 men have been arrested as a
suspected illicit tobacco factory was dismantled in North West England by HM
Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The arrests were made in 17 simultaneous searches
across North West of England and Scotland. HMRC found residential premises,
farms, self storage sites and a disused public house were being used to store
and process tobacco, in a suspected £12 million tobacco tax evasion plot.
During the operation tobacco was found in various stages of
processing. HMRC seized approximately 20 tonnes of tobacco, more than £50,000 in
cash, counterfeit packaging, shredding, cutting and drying machinery plus other
tobacco making paraphernalia. HMRC used tobacco detection dogs in the searches
and were assisted by Police and Home Office Immigration Services.
Tony Capon, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:-
"Tobacco fraud is a highly organised global crime which costs the UK £2.4
billion a year in lost taxes. In addition to significant revenue loss, illicit
tobacco products damage legitimate businesses and the trade is unregulated
making cheaper tobacco more readily available to the young and vulnerable. We
are determined to disrupt the manufacture and distribution of illicit tobacco
across the UK and will continue to work with other enforcement agencies to stamp
it out. Anyone with information about the smuggling or illegal sale of tobacco
and cigarettes can report it by calling our 24 hour Hotline on:- 0800 59 5000."
Those arrested have been interviewed and bailed until August 2017 and
investigations into the seizures is still ongoing.