OVER 20 million illegal cigarettes have been seized after being shipped through Tilbury.
A joint covert surveillance operation led to an industrial estate in Upminster. The cigarettes were confiscated by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) officers yesterday evening.
The potential duty lost is estimated as £3.4 million.
During the course of the evening officers searched eight other premises and made three further arrests. Seven people have been bailed to return for further questioning at a later date while enquiries are ongoing.
John Kay, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation HMRC said:
“The sheer quantity involved in this attempt suggests that these cigarettes could have ended up in locations across the UK.
“If it had been successful, it would have undermined the business of honest traders who only sell duty paid tobacco products.”