The UK’s illicit tobacco trade has been dealt a blow after a key illegal processing factory was discovered and destroyed in Hampshire.

Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) raided the tobacco factory which had been set up in an industrial unit in Bishop’s Waltham, on Wednesday 19 November.

More than a tonne of tobacco, along with counterfeit tobacco pouches, duty labels and processing machinery was discovered inside. The seized tobacco could have filled 30,000 50g tobacco pouches.

The factory was discovered after HMRC investigators arrested two men at a Warwickshire Police-led road check at Warwick Services on the M40 on 17 November, where a van containing around half a tonne of processed tobacco was found.  

JTI’s head of communications Jeremy Blackburn congratulated HMRC on the find: “The manufacturing of counterfeit tobacco products in the UK mainland is a growing problem driven by the high levels of tax on cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco which entices criminal gangs to profit at the expense of the general public.

“Since the start of 2013 JTI has been notified of the seizure of over 1.5 million counterfeit rolling tobacco pouches, equating to a potential £20m revenue loss, which were no doubt destined for illegal factories, similar to the one discovered in Hampshire.”