Birmingham man interviewed in probe over £44m cigarette haul

A Midland man has been interviewed has part of an investigation into the largest haul of illegal cigarettes seized in the UK.

One of the shipping containers
One of the shipping containers

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the man from the Birmingham area was spoken to "under caution" by officers after more than 99 million cigarettes, worth around £44m in unpaid taxes were confiscated by the Border Force in Hull on June 1 with the help of a sniffer dog.

The tobacco stash was found inside eight shipping containers described on custom and excise documents as carrying birchwood logs via United Arab Emirates.

HMRC fraud deputy director Anthony Usher said: “This is the single largest seizure of cigarettes ever made – and our streets would have been flooded with them had they not been discovered. We are determined to stamp out tobacco fraud by working closely with partners in the UK and internationally to bring those responsible to justice.

Some of the tobacco

“Cheap cigarettes come at a cost as they often fund organised crime and other illegal activity that causes real harm to our communities, such as drugs, guns and human trafficking. We urge anyone with information about cigarette fraud to contact us online. Search ‘Report Fraud HMRC’ on gov.uk and complete our online form.”

Some of the tobacco

Border Force north region deputy director Irene Hall said: “Illicit cigarettes are dangerous, harmful and fund organised criminal gangs. The officers involved can be proud that this huge interception has stopped illicit cigarettes from entering our communities.”

The case was passed to HMRC and an investigation was launched. Another man, aged 57, from Wales was arrested in July in connection with the seizure and was released on bail.

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