3.5 million illegal cigarettes have been seized by HMRC in a raid on an industrial unit in Tottenham, North London.
Five men were arrested on suspicion of smuggling, after the operation by HMRC to tackle an estimated £1 million tax fraud.
The suspected illegal cigarettes were discovered in a vehicle – in hollowed out metal plating, part of a cargo that had arrived from Poland. Further searches of two other industrial units revealed large quantities of suspected smuggled alcohol.
More than 150,000 cans of beer and cider were also discovered. Subsequent searches of private addresses and vehicles found £40,000 in cash.
Anthony Swarbrick, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“The criminals behind the illicit trade in alcohol and tobacco effectively steal over £3.2 billion a year from the taxpayer. HMRC is coming down hard on these unlawful and dangerous trades through targeted interventions aimed at the criminals behind them.
“I would encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”