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15 September 2010, 15:45
Ten million cigarettes have been found after smugglers tried to get them through the port of Felixstowe.
The UK Border Agency found them hidden amongst who containers full of tomatoes and is the biggest single seizure they have made at the port in 2010.
If the smugglers had succeeded in their attempt to get them into the UK, they would have cost the UK £2m in unpaid VAT and excise duty.
Customs officers became suspicious because of problems with the paperwork.
When the containers were opened, officers were confronted with four pallets of fresh tomatoes hiding the cigarettes – a mixture of brands including Raquel Golds, Regal and Superkings.
Brian Hill, the UK Border Agency’s Assistant Director at Felixstowe, said:
“We are determined to stop smuggling and the devastating impact this has on our communities.
"Cigarette smuggling is a serious organised crime and often provides the funding for much larger criminal operations, such as drug or people trafficking.
“It is also a crime against the honest taxpayer, as it takes away money from the public purse which could be used to help improve local communities and provide funding for vital public services.”
The tomatoes - totalling more than two tonnes - are being offered to Colchester Zoo.
The cigarettes will now be shredded and the pulp used to generate electricity for the national grid.