A number of local businesses had a surprise visit last week when officers from HM Revenue & Customs paid a visit to Ballymena, during which an an amount of suspected illicit cigarettes and tobacco was seized.
The operation took place on Tuesday, January 10th.
A spokesperson for HMRC told Love Ballymena:
"We can confirm we had officers in the Ballymena and Broughshane area and we seized 3280 suspected non-UK duty paid cigarettes and 3.2kg of Hand Rolling Tobacco. Investigations are continuing."
The spokesperson added:
"The illicit tobacco trade steals money from our vital public services, undercuts legitimate businesses and can fund other serious crimes that impact our communities. We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to report it to HMRC online.”
According to a report by KPMG, the amount of lost revenue caused by the sale of illicit cigarettes across the United Kingdom rose to £2.7bn in 2021.
Speaking in regards to the illicit tobacco industry former Justice Minister Naomi Long MLA previously said:
“Revenue and VAT evasion are not victimless crimes: this is the money we use to pay for our health service, education and infrastructure being stolen to fund all manner of illegal activity.
"I also urge people not to purchase such goods and play a part in disrupting organised criminality by reporting any suspicious activity to the PSNI."