HM Revenue amp; Customs (HMRC) officers are investigating after 8.2 million illicit cigarettes worth about £1.3m in unpaid duty and VAT was seized at the Port of Immingham in Lincolnshire.
The cigarettes, declared on import documents as textiles, were found by officers from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in a freight container that arrived from Rotterdam.
HMRC said all the cigarettes seized were “Yes”, a brand not sold legally in the UK. Also known as cheap whites, they are effectively made purely for smuggling and often obtained in large quantities by organised crime gangs who smuggle them into the UK.
Bob Gaiger from HMRC said: “Cigarette smugglers don’t care about the impact their actions have on legitimate retailers. This attempt to flood the Lincolnshire markets with smuggled cigarettes is motivated solely by greed. Information from the public and the business community is vital in helping us to stop them. Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000. All information is important and could be the key to stopping criminal activity.”
A 57-year-old UK national has been arrested and bailed pending further enquiries.