HMRC seizes 5.5 million illicit cigarettes

Two men have been arrested by HM Revenue amp; Customs (HMRC) in connection with the seizure of more than 5.5 million illicit cigarettes, from the rear of a retail premises in Erdington in Birmingham.

HMRC officers discovered the illegal haul of Raquel and Gold Classics cigarettes on Friday July 22 during checks on retail industrial and storage facilities in the area. It is estimated the goods are worth around £1.2m in unpaid excise duty and VAT.

Keith Morgan from HMRC’s Inland Detection teams said: “This was a large amount of cigarettes to uncover and shows the scale of this type of crime. Each year, the British economy loses over two billion pounds in duty from the sale of illicit tobacco, money that is ploughed straight back into funding other criminal activity in our neighbourhoods.”

He added: “We are determined to target the criminal supply chains that flood local communities with these smuggled products. If you know of someone storing or selling illegal tobacco goods in your area you can call the HMRC hotline on 0800 59 5000 to report it.”

The two men in their late 40s have been bailed until October. Investigations into the seized cigarettes are continuing.

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