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Suspected illicit tobacco factory dismantled

Press Release   •   Mar 27, 2015 10:48 GMT

A tobacco-processing machine, believed to be capable of producing more than £700,000 of illicit tobacco a day, has been seized in Derbyshire after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HMRC officers, working with Derbyshire Police, dismantled the suspected illicit tobacco factory at an industrial storage unit near Derby city centre on Monday (23 March). More than 1.2 tonnes of tobacco, worth an estimated £283,000 in duty and taxes, was seized during the operation.

Stuart Taylor, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

"Tobacco fraud costs the UK £2 billion a year in lost tax and this factory alone had the potential to rob taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of pounds a day in evaded excise duty.

"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.”

A 38-year-old man from the city of Derby was arrested and has been released on bail until June 2015. 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 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. Photographs are available at HMRC’s Flickr channel: www.flickr/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.