Illegal cigarettes and tobacco seized in Ballymena

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A man was arrested and tobacco and cash seized during an operation to disrupt the sale of suspected illicit tobacco by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on Thursday (22 July).

HMRC officers, accompanied by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, searched a commercial premises in the Ballymena area and discovered cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco (HRT) concealed under floor boards.

A 69 year old man was arrested on site. In a follow-up search at a private residence, £20,000 in cash was also seized along with more cigarettes and HRT.

In total 24,850 cigarettes and over 20kg of HRT, worth an estimated £13,000 in evaded duty, were seized.

Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“The trade in illicit tobacco is a serious crime and one we are determined to disrupt. Criminals are robbing taxpayers of billions each year in unpaid duty and taxes and undercutting legitimate local businesses, who can’t compete with these illegal products.

“We urge anyone with information about the transport, storage or sale of suspected illicit tobacco to contact us on our 24 hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Investigations into the seizures are continuing and a man has been bailed pending further enquiries.