The illicit tobacco trade has been dealt a body-blow following the seizure of key processing machinery and more than 15 tonnes of raw leaf tobacco from an industrial unit in Bedford.

Two men were also arrested in early morning raids by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on 29 October.

The potential duty loss is estimated to be around £2.3m.

Paul Barton, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “Tobacco smuggling deprives the UK taxpayer of around £2bn a year and undermines honest retailers. This illegal tobacco factory has now been dismantled. People with information about tobacco smuggling should call our customs hotline 0800 59 5000.”

Investigations are continuing and the two men have been bailed until February 2014.