HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is continuing to investigate what it is calling “the single largest seizure of illegal cigarettes ever made at a UK port”.
More than 99 million cigarettes, worth around £44m in unpaid taxes, were seized by Border Force at the Port of Hull in June 2022.
A Border Force tobacco detection dog helped uncover the illegal cigarettes which were packed inside eight shipping containers and described as birchwood logs shipped through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on import documents.
The case was passed to HMRC and an investigation was launched. As part of this investigation, a 57-year-old man from South Wales was arrested in July in connection with the seizure and was released on bail. Another man from the Birmingham area has been interviewed under caution. Investigations are ongoing.
Anthony Usher, deputy director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: “This is the single largest seizure of cigarettes ever made at a UK port – and our streets would have been flooded with them had they not been discovered.
“We are determined to stamp out tobacco fraud by working closely with partners in the UK and internationally to bring those responsible to justice. Cheap cigarettes come at a cost as they often fund organised crime and other illegal activity that causes real harm to our communities, such as drugs, guns and human trafficking.
“We urge anyone with information about cigarette fraud to contact HMRC online. Search ‘Report Fraud HMRC’ on GOV.UK and complete our online form.”
Irene Hall, deputy director of the Border Force North Region, added: “Illicit cigarettes are dangerous, harmful and fund organised criminal gangs. The officers involved can be proud that this huge interception has stopped illicit cigarettes from entering our communities.”