10 million illegal cigarettes seized at Harwich port

One of the pallets packed with cigarettes Credit: Home Office

Around 10 million black market cigarettes worth almost £3million in unpaid duty have been seized by Border Force officers at the Port of Harwich.

Scanners detected anomalies with a Polish-registered lorry which arrived in the Essex Port on a ferry from the Hook of Holland on Thursday 8 October.

Some of the cigarettes re-palleted Credit: Home Office

Paperwork for the vehicle showed it should have contained dozens of washing machines but only four appliances were onboard. Border Force officers inspected the vehicle’s trailer to discover huge pallets of shrink-wrapped Lambert and Butler silver cigarettes.

It is the second largest seizure of cigarettes by Border Force at Harwich this year.

Every day Border Force teams are protecting the UK from violent gangs hell-bent on smuggling in weapons, drugs and illicit cash.   “Border Force’s hard work has stopped criminals from making huge profits from black market cigarettes and cheating the taxpayer out of millions of pounds.

Home Secretary and Essex MP Priti Patel

The Polish driver was arrested on suspicion of evasion of excise duty but was subsequently released. The cab and trailer he was driving was seized.

Had the smuggling attempt not been detected, it would have cost the Treasury almost £3million in unpaid duty and VAT.