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Demand for 'designer dogs' fuels illegal puppy trade

It's a sad reality but the demand for designer dogs - at this time of year - is fuelling the illegal puppy trade.

Tiny Pugs, French Bulldogs and Chow Chow puppies are being smuggled into Britain from Europe to be sold online to unsuspecting families.

Many are unwell, unvaccinated and taken from their mothers too young. Our Correspondent, Derek Johnson has been to a quarantine kennel where puppies are being cared for.

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.

– HMRC

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Two million pounds worth of heroin and cocaine hidden in lorry

The Port of Dover Credit: Press Association

Border Force officers have seized approximately 13 kilos of cocaine and six kilos of heroin at Dover’s Eastern Docks. The drugs have a combined potential street value in excess of £2 million.

On Sunday officers at the UK inward freight controls intercepted a Slovenian-registered lorry. When they searched the vehicle officers found the drugs hidden within the load of mixed goods. A 41-year-old Slovenian man has been bailed while further investigations by Border Force are carried out.

Border Force seizes 2 tonnes of tobacco at Dover

Border Force officers have seized more than two tonnes of hand rolling tobacco being smuggled into the UK through Dover on a lorry. Officers stopped an Italian-registered lorry after it arrived from Calais on a ferry on 19th January.

After questioning the Romanian driver, Border Force officers searched the lorry and found the tobacco hidden under the a cargo of cheese. Officials say the haul could have cost the Treasury about £328,000 in unpaid excise duty.

"These detections show that our Border Force officers are on constant alert, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep illegal goods out of the UK. Anyone who smuggles tobacco for commercial gain is effectively stealing from the public purse and from law-abiding taxpayers. We will continue to work with HM Revenue & Customs to bring smugglers to justice."

– Paul Morgan, Director Border Force South East & Europe

Heathrow - 10 men arrested in smuggling investigation

Ten men have been arrested by HM & Revenue Customs officers investigating a freight warehouse at Heathrow. The site is believed to have been be used for cigarette and drug smuggling. The HMRC said the arrests sent a clear message to would-be smugglers.

The ten arrested men have been released without charge until September pending further inquiries.

“Operation Bypass is an HMRC-led investigation targeting those suspected to be involved in attempts to smuggle cigarettes and illegal drugs into the UK. At various stages of the investigation, we have worked closely with colleagues from Border Force. Further details cannot be provided at this stage of the investigation as enquiries continue.

“However, our operation today sends out a clear message to those involved in this type of criminality; attempts to smuggle goods illegally into the UK will not be tolerated, and together with partner enforcement agencies we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be involved in this type of criminal activity.”

– John Cooper, HMRC’s Assistant Director for Criminal Investigation

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Ten arrested in Heathrow drug smuggling investigation

Customs officers investigating a freight warehouse at Heathrow believed to have been used for cigarette and drug smuggling, have arrested ten men - from Southall, Frimley, Stanmore, West Drayton, High Wycombe, Luton, Forest Gate and Manchester.

The ten men have been released on bail without charge until September, pending further inquiries. Around 90 investigators from HMRC, working with officers from Border Force, searched the warehouse in Heathrow.

The officers also searched eight residential and three business properties in Frimley in Surrey; Southall, Stanmore and West Drayton in Middlesex; High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire and Luton in Bedfordshire. During the investigation the following items were seized:

  • Six kilos of crystal amphetamine with an estimated street value of £180,000
  • Approximately £54,000 in cash
  • One LDV high top van
  • Two HGV lorries
  • A quantity of Kamagra jelly
  • Computers, mobile phones and business records.