Six people have been arrested in Luton after an estimated 3.6 tonnes of suspected illegal tobacco was seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
More than 60 HMRC officers were involved in the operation on Thursday, March 7, in which four homes and one commercial premises were raided. The tobacco found is believed to be worth an estimated £863,500 in lost duty and taxes. One of the places searched was a suspected illicit tobacco factory.
Officers seized cutting machinery, approximately 1.6 tonnes of processed hand-rolling tobacco and two tonnes of loose tobacco, preventing at least 30,000 pouches of illicit goods hitting the UK streets.
Richard Mayer, assistant director of HMRC fraud infestigation service, said: “The trade in illicit tobacco makes tobacco more readily available to the young and vulnerable and harms legitimate traders.
“Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year.
“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Five men and one woman were arrested and questioned by HMRC. They have all been released under investigation