Tobacco haul worth €2.5m intercepted at Dublin Port


REVENUE’S CUSTOMS service and the Garda have seized one of the largest consignments of contraband tobacco found in Ireland, with a haul weighing three tonnes confiscated at Dublin Port.

The consignment, which would retail for €2.5 million, was discovered in a container that had been shipped from China.

Security sources believe the consignment was to be collected at the port and taken to an illegal processing plant where it would have been packed into counterfeit pouches and sold on the streets for roll-your-own cigarettes.

“It’s possible it was going to England. But we have seen these . . . processing operations both South and North of the Border in Ireland,” said one source.

The haul had come into the docks in recent days and had been identified as a suspect container during security checks.

Revenue then drafted in the Garda, with the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Organised Crime Unit joining efforts to identify the gang for whom the contraband was destined.

When the container was not collected it was searched and the haul taken into the control of Revenue’s Customs service on Tuesday evening.

The tobacco was labelled on the shipping manifest as “polyresin crafts”, which are plastic items such as ornaments and trinkets.

The contraband had been split into large consignments and expertly sealed in polyresin urns.

The team investigating the origins and destination of the haul is working with UK authorities.

The consignment is the latest in rising tobacco and cigarette shipments entering the State. Increasing numbers of Irish organised crime gangs are now involved in the trade. Tobacco smuggled into the Republic or counterfeit smuggled tobacco and cigarettes retail on the black market for about 50 per cent less than legitimate products.

Revenue said if the haul had been sold in retail outlets, at the recommended retail price, it would fetch €2.5 million – of which €1.5 million would be taxes.

The Retailers Against Smuggling organisation welcomed the latest seizure, saying jobs had been saved by taking the contraband out of circulation.

“The value of this tobacco is the equivalent of 100 retail jobs and its size highlights again the scale of the cigarette smuggling problem in Ireland,” spokesman Benny Gilsenan said.