Raids on shops and storage units in March, Wisbech and Peterborough net tens of thousands of illicit cigarettes and tobacco
- Credit: Archant
An operation to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco in March, Wisbech and Peterborough uncovered more than 240,000 cigarettes and 34.85 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco, all believed to be illicit.
Around 40 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with support from Peterborough Trading Standards and Cambridgeshire Police, visited 27 retail premises and self storage units on September 27 and 28.
The visits, as part of HMRC’s Tobacco Taskforce activity, led to suspected illegal tobacco and other products being seized from 19 premises. This included:
•242,980 cigarettes, with an estimated £65,604 duty and VAT evaded
•34.85 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco, with an estimated £7,310 duty and VAT evaded
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•80 cases of beer
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•1,100 litres of suspected illicit red diesel and associated equipment.
Brett Wilkinson, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.4 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to contact the HMRC Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Peter Gell, head of regulatory services at Peterborough City Council, said:
“This was a joint agency operation to seize illicit tobacco being sold around the city.
“The sale of counterfeit goods damages the trade of legitimate sellers. It also leads to tax evasion, which means less money for the Government to spend on services. The suspected duty evaded on the cigarettes and tobacco we seized during these raids alone is £72,000.”