Belfast Telegraph

Three arrested and thousands of cigarettes seized in Belfast and Newtownabbey

The products are said to be worth £46,500 in lost duty and taxes
The products are said to be worth £46,500 in lost duty and taxes

Three people have been arrested in south Belfast and Newtownabbey following a tobacco seizure.

107,000 cigarettes and 21 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco were seized during the search of three houses, five vehicles and one shop on Tuesday.

The products are said to be worth £46,500 in lost duty and taxes.

A sum of around £2,000 in cash was also seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force.

Two men in their sixties and a 53-year-old woman have been arrested and interviewed in relation to the evasion of excise duty.

"Working together in partnership with other enforcement colleagues we can target the criminal gangs who are stealing from the taxpayer, robbing public services and undermining legitimate, honest traders," said Steve Tracey of the Fraud Investigation Service.

"This seizure by the PCTF is a further sign of our continuing commitment to ending the funding streams that allow paramilitaries to perpetuate their organised criminality," said Detective Chief Inspector Martin Cummings from PSNI .

"There is no such thing as a victimless crime and the trade of illicit tobacco generates significant funds for paramilitary groups, in this case loyalist paramilitaries. Those who purchase these products should be under no illusion - they are indirectly funding the purchase of other commodities by paramilitaries.

"Money spent on illicit tobacco could be used by paramilitaries to buy drugs and weapons which bring harm and misery to families across Northern Ireland. Communities end up paying the price whilst paramilitaries profit," he said.

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