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Preston suspected illegal tobacco factory found

Press release   •   Mar 27, 2015 12:07 GMT

More than 412 kilos of raw tobacco has been seized and a suspected illicit tobacco factory dismantled near Preston by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The tobacco was found in various stages of processing during searches of a business premises in Hutton by Lancashire Police on Thursday (26 March). The haul, thought to be worth around £93,000 in lost duty and taxes, was seized by HMRC officers and the plant was dismantled.

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“Tobacco fraud is highly organised global crime which costs the UK £2 billion a year in lost taxes which should be spent on public services. In addition to significant revenue loss, illicit tobacco products damage legitimate businesses and the trade is unregulated making cheaper tobacco more readily available to the young and vulnerable.

“We would encourage anyone with information on tobacco fraud to contact the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Investigations are ongoing.

Notes for editors

1.Since 2000, the illicit market in cigarettes has more than halved. In the last two years, almost 3.3 billion cigarettes and over 800 tonnes of illicit hand-rolling tobacco have been seized and 593 criminals involved have been prosecuted.

2.HMRC can also levy civil penalties on anyone handling, using or supplying non-duty paid tobacco products. Penalties introduced in April 2010 range from 10 to 100 per cent of the possible lost revenue.

3.Anyone with information regarding tobacco fraud is encouraged to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online at https://www.gov.uk/report-tobacco-or-alcohol-tax-evasion

4.Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

5.A photograph is available at HMRC’s Flickr channel 

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.