Five Sandwell men arrested in £120m tobacco smuggling investigation

Five men from Sandwell have been arrested as part of an investigation into a suspected £120m tobacco smuggling fraud.

Packet of cigarettes

Early morning raids were carried out at properties in Smethwick, West Bromwich and Great Barr yesterday, following recent seizures of 16 million cigarettes and £600,000 in cash.

Two men aged 39 and 41 from Smethwick, two men aged 39 and 37, from Great Barr and a 39-year-old man from West Bromwich were all arrested.

130 investigators from HM Revenue and Customs, along with officers from West Midlands Police, searched ten residential and three commercial properties as part of Operation Dardanelle, which targets the organised smuggling of cigarettes and tobacco.

Colin Booker, from HMRC, said: “Our activity yesterday sends out a clear message to those involved in this type of criminality.

"We are determined to crack down on the illicit tobacco trade that undermines the efforts of legitimate traders and we will relentlessly pursue those believed to be involved.”

Anyone with information about tobacco or cigarette smuggling can contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs-hotline/