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Six arrested as 300,000 cigarettes seized in Kent

Some of the seized cigarettes Credit: Kent Police

Kent Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit has seized around 300,000 illegal cigarettes in Gravesend.

It's estimated that tax worth £120,000 had not been paid.

Four men, aged 21, 25, 36 and 25 years old and all from Gravesend, a 34-year-old man from Manchester and 19-year-old man from Ilford, Essex, were arrested during the operation and have been bailed until February.

Credit: Kent Police

Sniffer dogs discover illegal tobacco

Sniffer dog Yoyo is rewarded with a ball after sniffing out tobacco Credit: Portsmouth Council

More than 19,000 illegal cigarettes have been seized after raids on three shops in central Portsmouth.

Portsmouth City Council's trading standards team, backed by police and HMRC officers, used two sniffer dogs to find the illicit tobacco.

The shops were targeted after tip-offs that cigarettes were being hidden in shops and sold under the counter.

The cigarettes, with a value of around £5,000, were seized. Rolling tobacco was also discovered.


Smuggler's plan to avoid £32m in duty goes pear-shaped

The cigarettes were concealed in loads of pears Credit: HMRC

A lorry driver who smuggled more than 147 million cigarettes into the UK hidden behind crates of rotting pears has been jailed for almost seven years. The cigarettes were worth an estimated £32 million in lost duty.

HM Revenue and Customs officers foiled Hans Verhoeven’s plan in July 2014 when they stopped him at The Junction 26 Truck Stop, off the M25 near Waltham Abbey, in Essex.

The 45-year-old told officers he was transporting fruit and bread, but when they opened the container they found vast quantities of cigarettes.

Verhoeven was arrested and later admitted making at least 18 smuggling runs in the past, each time carrying a similar load packed behind crates of pears.

Verhoeven smuggled huge quantities of cigarettes into the UK, costing the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds in lost duty - money that should have been providing vital public services.

These offences have a devastating impact on honest retailers who struggle to compete with the black market in illicit cigarettes and tobacco, costing the country £2.1 billion in lost revenue each year.


Thousands of cigarettes found in layby

These cigarettes were recovered from a layby near Wareham Credit: Dorset Police

Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward after almost 34,000 cigarettes were recovered from a layby near Wareham.

The haul, which was reported to police by a dog walker at 9.10am on Thursday, was collected by officers and will be referred to HM Revenue and Customs for further investigation.

The consignment was found in a layby along the A35 at Bloxworth, near Wareham.

No arrests have been made.

“I would like to speak to anyone who may have information regarding where the cigarettes may have come from. Anyone who may have found other packets in unusual circumstances should hand them to police. Further tests are required to determine the contents of the cigarettes so I would also urge anyone who may have been offered packets of cigarettes cheaply to report this to police as their consumption may be harmful.”

– Police Sergeant Paul James, of Purbeck police

Police charges over plot to steal cigarettes worth £2 million

Sixteen people have charged with plotting to steal more than £2 million of cigarettes from their company at Gatwick Airport.

The 15 men and one woman have been charged jointly with stealing duty free cigarettes worth a total of £2,432,665 from Gate Gourmet, a business that supplies airlines at the airport.

They have been charged with conspiracy to steal from their employer and money laundering. They have all been released on bail to appear at Crawley Magistrates' Court on 6 May.

Plot to steal cigarettes Credit: Press Association

The sixteen people have been charged with conspiracy to steal from their employer and money laundering. They have all been released on bail to appear at Crawley Magistrates' Court on 6 May.

The charges follow a long running investigation by Sussex Police into the large-scale theft of duty free items at Gatwick.

The operation was run with the support of Gate Gourmet, which alerted Sussex Police to the issue after discovering irregularities with its stock. Suspects were arrested in a series of raids in July 2013.

A further two people - a 39-year-old man from Crawley and a 32-year-old man from Crawley - are still on bail as part of the investigation.

Detectives hunt burglars after ram raid on shop

Detectives at Shirley are appealing for witness after burglars drove a vehicle through the front roller shutters of Martins Newsagents at Lordshill Centre. The burglary occurred at about 3.20am on Friday, January 3, when a green Rover Metro smashed through the window.

Three men are believed to be involved in the theft of up to £3,000 worth of cigarettes. The Metro, which was a stolen vehicle, was abandoned at the scene, and the robbers are believed to have left in a stolen blue Ford Escort van.

The van was later found abandoned in Bindon Close, Shirley Warren. The men are believed to have left Bindon Close in a white Ford Escort, which was found later in Coxford Close.


Southampton boxing day burglaries

Two Southampton supermarkets were raided by cigarette thieves on Boxing Day.

The burglaries took place within hours of each other in the early hours of Thursday 26th December.

At around 1.54am, thieves forced a fire exit door by the main entrance of Teco in Tebourba Way and forced open shutters at the cigarette kiosk and took an unknown quantity of stock.

Another break-in happened at 4.30am at Sainsbury's in Lordshill where offenders attempted to steal cigarettes but left empty handed.

On both occasions a motorbike was seen in the areas at the time of the break-ins.

Sniffer dogs find illegal cigarettes

Video. Billions of illegal cigarettes are brought into the UK every year - either smuggled in without tax being paid, or counterfeit ones made cheaply abroad by organised criminal gangs. Many end up in the South East - in shops on our high streets at cut price, tempting smokers.

Often these cigarettes contain level of chemicals and tar that break health rules. Now, in one part of Kent, dog detectives are helping to catch the unscrupulous traders behind the problem as Nashreen Issa explains.

£8 million of 'fake' cigarettes seized

Cigarettes seized in Southampton Credit: UK Border Agency

Border Force officers have foiled an attempt to smuggle 30 million cigarettes into the UK through the port of Southampton.

The haul was made after a container shipped from China, supposed to be carrying wind turbine parts, was stopped.

The container was scanned in an x-ray machine that showed cigarettes inside.

Two further containers were found to be linked to the first one. Together they had a total of 19.4 million Lambert & Butlers and 10.9 million Regal cigarettes, all of which are believed to be counterfeit.

Cigarettes seized in Southampton Credit: UK Border Agency

Andy Lumb, from Border Force, said: “This was cigarette smuggling on an industrial scale so I am delighted that our officers have prevented this haul of contraband from reaching our streets.

“Tobacco smuggling is not victimless. It is effectively stealing from the public purse, at a time when the country can least afford it."

It's thought if the haul had not been intercepted it would have cost the Treasury about £8,064,000 in unpaid excise duty.

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