Massive cigarette smuggling plot foiled at Felixstowe

A PLOT to smuggle in 10 million cigarettes to avoid �2m in tax has been foiled at the Port of Felixstowe.

Officers from the UK Border Agency said the contraband, which is the biggest single seizure made at the docks this year, was concealed in a coverload of tomatoes to avoid detection.

The haul was in two separate containers shipped in from the Canary Islands. It will now be shredded and the pulp used to generate electricity for the national grid.

Officials said that if the smuggling operations had succeeded, it would have cost the UK �2m in unpaid VAT and excise duty.

The seizure occurred after officers’ attention was drawn to the shipment by a discrepancy in the documentation.

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When the containers were opened on Monday, detection staff were confronted with four pallets of fresh tomatoes.

These concealed millions of cigarettes. The contraband was in a mixture of brands including Raquel Golds, Regal and Superkings.

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The tomatoes which were part of the cargo weighed more than two tonnes. They are now being offered to Colchester Zoo.

Brian Hill, the UK Border Agency’s assistant director at Felixstowe, said: “We are determined to stop smuggling and the devastating impact this has on our communities.

“Cigarette smuggling is a serious organised crime and often provides the funding for much larger criminal operations, such as drug or people trafficking.

“It is also a crime against the honest taxpayer, as it takes away money from the public purse which could be used to help improve local communities and provide funding for vital public services.”

Anyone with information about suspected smuggling activity should call the UK Border Agency on 0800 595000.

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