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Five arrested in suspected £6m cigarette smuggling investigation

Press Release   •   Jul 18, 2013 10:39 BST

Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigating a suspected £6 million cigarette smuggling fraud have arrested five people during raids across the Peterborough and Spalding areas.

Around 100 HMRC investigators, assisted by Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire police and Peterborough Trading Standards, carried out over 30 searches of residential properties, local shops and warehouse storage units.

Richard Las, HMRC’s Deputy Director for Criminal Investigation, said:

“This operation is an HMRC-led investigation targeting suspected cigarette smuggling and money laundering offences, centred on Peterborough and Spalding. We cannot provide any further information as the investigation is continuing.

“Our activity today sends out a clear message to those involved in this type of criminality. Attempts to import, distribute and sell tobacco goods on which UK duty has not been paid are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be involved.”

“You can report anyone you suspect may be selling illegal tobacco goods by calling our 24 hour Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

All five men have been bailed.

Notes for editors

1. Details of those arrested during yesterday’s (17 July 2013) operation:

·  Spalding; two men, aged 34 and 27; both with addresses in Boston.

·  Peterborough; three men aged 52, 22 and 45.

·  All five men were arrested on suspicion of being involved in excise fraud, primarily the illegal importation of Jing Ling cigarettes.

·  630,000 illicit white cigarettes were seized.

·  £13,000 was also seized from two residential addresses in Peterborough.

2.Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk.

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.