Belfast Telegraph

Two are bailed after 70,000 cigarettes uncovered

By Nevin Farrell

Two people were arrested in connection with the seizure of over 70,000 cigarettes and three kilos of hand-rolling tobacco by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in a series of raids yesterday.

HMRC officers searched private and commercial premises in Ballymena and Ballymoney, where they seized 12,020 suspected illicit cigarettes and tobacco, plus almost £2,000 in cash.

In a separate operation, HMRC seized what was believed to be 60,000 illicit cigarettes and a vehicle in the Claudy area of Co Londonderry after PSNI officers stopped it.

A woman from Ballymena and a man from south Armagh were interviewed by HMRC and released on bail. Inquiries are continuing.

Mike Parkinson of HMRC said: "Tobacco fraud is organised crime on a global scale, encouraging and supporting criminality within our communities and robbing taxpayers of billions each year in unpaid duty.

"We urge anyone with information about the sale of suspected illicit tobacco to contact us on the Customs' hotline on 0800 595 000."

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