Attempt to smuggle two million cigarettes into Purfleet thwarted

AN attempt to smuggle more than 2.5 million cigarettes into the UK has been prevented by Border Force officers at the Port of Purfleet.

The cigarettes had been shipped to the UK from Zeebrugge inside a trailer listed as containing fridge freezers, car mats and car spare parts.

When officers examined the load they found 20 fridge freezers and 28 crates.

Mark Kennedy, Border Force Assistant Director at Purfleet, said:

“Instead of car parts, each crate concealed nine or 10 large cartons of cigarettes. The final seizure amounted to a total of 2.64 million cigarettes.

“This was an excellent detection that has starved those responsible of the proceeds of their criminality.

“Anyone tempted by cheap cigarettes and tobacco should think again. The black market cheats honest traders and it is effectively stealing from the public purse.”

Had this smuggling attempt proved successful it could have cost the Treasury approximately £775,000 in unpaid duty.

The seizure was made on 4 February. The trailer and the fridge freezers have been seized.

Border Force officers are the front line in protecting the country and play a key role in detecting illegal immigration, disrupting serious and organised crime and helping to prevent the threat of terrorism. Border Force also protects the UK’s revenue, contributing to the nation’s prosperity and growth.

They use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners – as well as visual searches – to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and tobacco which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.

Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling can call our hotline on 0800 59 5000.

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