Cigarettes in packages had been crammed in to the chairs
A hoard of 40,000 illegal cigarettes has been found in a cargo of furniture being imported through a port in Essex.
UK Border Agency officers at Tilbury found the cigarettes inside a settee and two armchairs brought by container from the United Arab Emirates.
The smugglers had crammed the packages into the bases of the pieces of furniture.
The hoard would have attracted £9,000 duty if imported legally, a UK Border Agency spokesman said.
Director of Border Force, Marc Owen said: “The smugglers had made quite an elaborate attempt to evade detection.
“The black market, which the cigarettes were undoubtedly headed for, cheats the British taxpayer, undermines honest traders and has no regard for who is buying the products, including children.”
The cigarettes will be taken to an incinerator plant where they will be burned.