Felixstowe: Border Force seizes 4.5million smuggled cigarettes at port

Minister of state for immigration, Mark Harper, right, talking to Border Force officials during his

Minister of state for immigration, Mark Harper, right, talking to Border Force officials during his visit to the Port of Felixstowe, during which he was shown a seizure of 4.25m smuggled cigarettes. - Credit: Archant

GOVERNMENT minister Mark Harper was today shown the latest seizure by Border Force officers at the Port of Felixstowe – 4.5million smuggled cigarettes destined to be sold cheap in the UK.

The smugglers of the cigarettes were trying to evade £600,000 of duty.

Officers discovered the haul hidden in a container which arrived from the Philippines and was described as carrying banana chips. An x-ray scan showed the lines of boxes and the consignment was opened up to reveal its illegal cargo.

Senior officer with the Border Force, Kevin Sayer said officers scanned 3% to 5% of all containers arriving at the port, and worked with Interpol, EU customs forces, police home and abroad, and other partner agencies to gather intelligence to help target which cargo to scan and physically check.

He said: “Clearly 99% of business is perfectly legitimate and the last thing we want to do is to hold up containers unnecessarily, so we focus on those where we have suspicion or intelligence.

“The number of cigarettes being smuggled that we have detected so far this year has increased over the same period last year.”

Mr Harper, minister of state for immigration, was at the port to see Border Force operations and talk to front line staff before going on to visit BT at Martlesham and University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich.

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He said Border Force staff were protecting £300m revenue on goods coming through Felixstowe.

Mr Harper said: “Their work is also about keeping illegitimate products, cigarettes but also counterfeit products, off the street to protect legitimate business and ensure that legitimate business is not under-cut and is able to keep flowing.

“They are also dealing with potential threats to our border. It’s important work – and important that the people involved here at the Border Force and at other centres across the country know they are doing a worthwhile job which is appreciated by government and also the general public.”