Nine million counterfeit cigarettes destined for the streets of Burnley have been seized by customs officials at the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk.

The fake cigarettes arrived from Namibia and were hidden in containers which were described as carrying charcoal.

Jim Jarvie, deputy director for central region United Kingdom Borders Agency (UKBA), said: “This is a large seizure of illegal cigarettes that without the intervention of UKBA officers working alongside HM Revenue and Customs would have flooded our streets.”

The Association of Convenience Stores welcomed the capture, but said that more work needed to be done. 

“This only scratches the surface of the problem,” said chief executive James Lowman. “More resources are needed at local level to tackle the sale of counterfeit cigarettes, such as those in pubs, at car boot sales and on street corners.”