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Illicit cigarettes and tobacco worth £8.3m in lost tax seized in Armagh

HMRC operation took place – with support of PSNI –  in Camlough and Silverbridge 

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An estimated 11 tonnes of loose tobacco, 1.6 million suspected counterfeit branded Excellence cigarettes, and the materials and equipment to produce many millions more have been seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in County Armagh.

An estimated 11 tonnes of loose tobacco, 1.6 million suspected counterfeit branded Excellence cigarettes, and the materials and equipment to produce many millions more have been seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in County Armagh.

An estimated 11 tonnes of loose tobacco, 1.6 million suspected counterfeit branded Excellence cigarettes, and the materials and equipment to produce many millions more have been seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in County Armagh.

Illicit cigarettes and tobacco with an estimated £8.3m in lost duty and taxes have been seized by custom officers in a major operation in Co Armagh.

Investigators from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – along with the PSNI uncovered the materials after searching premises in Camlough and Silverbridge.

The operation, which took place on Thursday, resulted in an estimated 11 tonnes of loose tobacco, 1.6m suspected counterfeit branded Excellence cigarettes.

Materials and equipment, along with tobacco shredding, cigarette rolling and packaging machinery — part of a suspected illicit tobacco production –  have also been seized by officials.

The HMRC said on Friday that undetected, the machinery is capable of producing more than 390m cigarettes a year, evading in excess of £160 million in lost duty and taxes.

Steve Tracey, assistant director of the HMRC Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Cheap cigarettes come at a cost as they often fund organised crime and other illegal activity that causes real harm to our communities.

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An estimated 11 tonnes of loose tobacco, 1.6 million suspected counterfeit branded Excellence cigarettes, and the materials and equipment to produce many millions more have been seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in County Armagh.

An estimated 11 tonnes of loose tobacco, 1.6 million suspected counterfeit branded Excellence cigarettes, and the materials and equipment to produce many millions more have been seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in County Armagh.

An estimated 11 tonnes of loose tobacco, 1.6 million suspected counterfeit branded Excellence cigarettes, and the materials and equipment to produce many millions more have been seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in County Armagh.

"The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) partner agencies and disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £1.9bn a year.

"This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.”

The assistant director added: “Since 2015/16 we have protected over £13bn in revenue and seized over 7bn illicit cigarettes and over 1,100 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco. There have also been more than 1,800 positive charging decisions in relation to tobacco fraud.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Cigarette filters capable of producing a further 3.m cigarettes were also found on the premises. Investigations into the suspected fraud are ongoing.


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