10.8 million cigarettes seized at Belfast Port
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is investigating after 10.8 million illegal cigarettes were seized at Belfast Port.
The cigarettes, worth around £5.3million in unpaid taxes, were seized by HMRC working alongside Border Force, on 20 June 2023.
The cigarettes were found packed in cardboard boxes inside a container that had been scanned by Border Force.
No arrests have been made.
Lucie Irving, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“Cheap cigarettes come at a cost as they often fund organised crime and other illegal activity that causes real harm to our communities, such as drugs, guns and human trafficking.
“This is a huge seizure of illegal cigarettes and our streets would have been flooded with them had they not been discovered.
“We are determined to stamp out tobacco fraud by working closely with our partners in the UK and internationally to bring those responsible to justice.
Darren Brabon, Assistant Director, Border Force Northern Ireland Command, said:
“Illicit cigarettes are dangerous, harmful and fund organised criminal gangs.
“Children and young people are key targets for those who peddle illegal tobacco and cigarettes, encouraging them to take up smoking and exposing them to crime.
“This seizure is another example of our commitment with HMRC and partner agencies to stop these illicit items from entering the country and harming our communities.”
Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of the HMRC strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.