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Eight million cigarettes seized in cross border operation

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Eight million cigarettes seized in cross border operation

Three men have been arrested and eight million suspected illicit cigarettes seized during a Joint Agency Task Force (JATF) operation in Co Armagh.

Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) attended a property in Newry this morning along with colleagues from the PSNI.HMRC made the arrests at the scene and seized eight million cigarettes.The suspected illicit tobacco products are worth an estimated £3m in lost duty and taxes.

A heavy goods vehicle and its refrigerated unit, a van and a fork lift truck were also seized along with approximately £12,000 and €2,000.

The operation led to a further eight searches across the border carried out by the JATF’s Revenue Commissioners and An Garda Síochána, with almost €100,000 euros, thousands of duty stamps and approximately two and a half tonnes of hand rolling tobacco being confiscated.

Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“HMRC and our partner agencies are continuing to work together and are prepared to deploy where necessary to disrupt and dismantle the illicit trade of tobacco and other forms of criminality.

“Multi-agency investigations mounted by the Joint Agency Task Force show what can be achieved by our ongoing cross-jurisdictional cooperation to tackle criminality.

“Our collaboration, even during a global pandemic, demonstrates that we are committed to working with each other, at every level and in every location to tackle organised crime on a cross border basis. As we did today, we will take all measures necessary to ensure we can continue to carry out this important work successfully.”

Detective Superintendent Rowan Moore, from Police Service NI’s Criminal Investigation Branch, said:

“We are committed to working alongside our partner agencies to combat the illicit trade of illegal tobacco and put those who seek to profit from criminality before the courts.


“Those trading in illicit cigarettes may be funding terrorism and criminality which brings misery and harm to local communities and today’s action sends a powerful message to those engaged in this type of criminality.”

John O’Reilly, Revenue Commissioners’ Investigation and Prosecution Division, said:

“As part of the operation, Revenue Commissioners along with An Garda Síochána carried out a number of searches in the area of Carlingford, Co Louth.

“Revenue is determined and resolute in its own efforts and in collaboration with An Garda Síochána to tackle all forms of smuggling and illicit activity in relation to tobacco and other products.”

An Garda Síochána’s Detective Superintendent Alan Cunningham, North Western Region, said:

“Through the Joint Agency Task Force, Gardaí along with other agencies will continue to focus on organised crime groups involved in the illegal manufacture and distribution of tobacco as it is used as a source of funding to support dissident republican activities.”

The three men arrested in Newry by HMRC and in police custody are aged 34, 37 and 55.

Investigations are ongoing.

Notes for editors

  1. Details of searches and arrests carried out today (30 May 2020):

Newry

  • One residential property searched
  • Three men aged 34, 37 and 55 arrested
  • Eight million cigarettes worth an estimated £3m in lost revenue, seized
  • Approximately £12,000 and €2,000 was seized
  • A heavy goods vehicle and its refrigerated unit, a van and a fork lift truck were seized

Carlingford

  • Revenue Commissioners along with An Garda Síochána carried out a number of searches in the area of Carlingford, Co Louth.
  • Almost €100,000 euros in cash was found at two residential properties with the assistance of Revenue’s cash detector dog Bill.
  • 1,910 kilograms of HRT was seized worth approximately €1.2 million, representing a loss to the Exchequer of almost €947,500.
  • 2.5 tonnes of raw tobacco which, if processed into hand rolling tobacco, would have a retail value of over €1.55 million representing a potential loss to the Exchequer of €1.24 million.

2.In November 2015, the agreement A Fresh Start, The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan was published. In the agreement the British and Irish Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive agreed a set of actions to address two key themes: to secure the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement; and to deal with the impact of continued paramilitary activity. The Joint Agency Task Force was established to tackle cross-jurisdictional organised crime and under this Agreement. The Joint Agency Task Force is comprised of the PSNI, An Garda Síochána, HM Revenue & Customs, the Revenue Commissioners, Home Office Immigration Enforcement, the Criminal Assets Bureau, and the National Crime Agency.

3.Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax fraud can report it online here or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.

4.HMRC’s Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

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

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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.

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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.

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