Illicit cigarettes and tobacco worth €9.6m in lost tax seized in Co Armagh

Officials believe to have discovered factory capable of producing 390m cigarettes a year

Over one million cigarettes were seized at a factory in Co Armagh

Over one million cigarettes were seized at a factory in Co Armagh

 

Eleven tonnes of loose tobacco and 1.6 million cigarettes have been seized by Northern Ireland customs officials in Co Armagh.

HM Revenue and Customs officers, along with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, seized the tobacco and cigarettes at premises in the Camlough and Silverbridge areas.

The cigarettes and tobacco worth an estimated £8.3 million (€9.6 million) in lost duty and taxes were discovered along with tobacco shredding, cigarette rolling and packaging machinery – part of a suspected illicit tobacco production operation.

Officials uncovered what they believe to be an illicit tobacco factory
Officials uncovered what they believe to be an illicit tobacco factory

Undetected, the machinery is capable of producing more than 390 million cigarettes a year, evading in excess of £160 million (€186 million) in lost duty and taxes, a statement from the HMRC said.

Suspected fraud

Cigarette filters capable of producing a further 3.8 million cigarettes were also found on the premises. Investigations into the suspected fraud are ongoing.

“Cheap cigarettes come at a cost as they often fund organised crime and other illegal activity that causes real harm to our communities. The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us,” said HMRC assistant director Steve Tracey.

Disrupting criminal trade was “at the heart” of the HMRC’s strategy to “clamp down on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £1.9 billion a year.”

“This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders,” he said.

The HMRC encouraged anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.