Five men have been arrested in North London, on suspicion of smuggling, after an operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to tackle an estimated £1 million tax fraud.
The men were arrested after suspected illegal cigarettes were discovered in a vehicle at an industrial unit in the Tottenham area. The cigarettes were found in hollowed out metal plating, part of a cargo that had arrived from Poland. Further searches of two other industrial units revealed large quantities of suspected smuggled alcohol.
In total, HMRC officers seized 3,500,000 cigarettes and over 150,000 cans of beer and cider from the industrial units. During subsequent searches of private addresses and vehicles officers seized £40,000 in cash.
Anthony Swarbrick, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“The criminals behind the illicit trade in alcohol and tobacco effectively steal over £3.2 billion a year from the taxpayer. HMRC is coming down hard on these unlawful and dangerous trades through targeted interventions aimed at the criminals behind them.
“I would encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
The five men have been interviewed under caution by HMRC and bailed until November 2015.
Notes for editors
1. Those arrested during the operation on Wednesday 19 August 2015 include:
- Two men, aged 34 and 31, from North London
- Two men, aged 45 and 42, from North West London
- One man, aged 33, from Poland
2. The estimated total revenue loss of the seized goods is around £1 million for the tobacco and £90,000 for the alcohol.
3. Photographs of the seized goods are available on request or at HMRC’s flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
4. Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
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.