Four men who attempted to smuggle more than 13 million counterfeit cigarettes into the UK, hidden in freight loads marked as ice cream and frozen pizza, have been jailed.
The first load of 7,602,400 cigarettes was confiscated at the port of Newhaven. They were hidden in cardboard boxes marked as frozen pizza.
The second load of counterfeit cigarettes arrived a few hours later at Dover Eastern Docks. The documents described the cargo as ice cream but instead the unit was full of black shrink wrapped pallets containing millions of cigarettes. In total officers seized 6.1million cigarettes, with an estimated duty loss of £1,098,853.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) assistant director of criminal investigation John Cooper described the four men as criminals “who were motivated purely by greed, not caring who they harmed”.
“The sale of smuggled cigarettes is unregulated and these products are often sold to children and young people,” he added. “Local shopkeepers also suffer when sales are lost to the criminals who peddle these harmful, and often counterfeit, illegal goods.”
If you have any information on illegal tobacco call the 24 hour Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.