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An attempt to smuggle 329,000 cigarettes through the Port of Felixstowe concealed under a shallow layer of stones has failed.
The Gin Ling cigarettes had been hidden in a trailer which arrived from Vlaardingen in Holland. Documents described the consignment as ships parts and the cigarettes had been spread across 12 crates. Each crate contained a top layer, just a few inches deep, of stones which concealed the packets of cigarettes underneath.
Had the attempt been successful the smugglers would have evaded nearly £53,000 in unpaid excise duty and VAT.
Marc Owen, Director of Border Force, Central Region, said:
“The smugglers had provided such inadequate documentation that attention was immediately drawn to the consignment and the layer of stones did little to conceal the crates’ true contents.
“It would be safe to say that our officers at Felixstowe have thwarted more sophisticated smuggling attempts over the years.
“The cigarettes were undoubtedly headed for the black market, cheating the British taxpayer and undermining honest traders. The people who operate in this trade also have no scruples about who they sell their products to, including children.”
The cigarettes, which originated in Latvia, will be taken to an incinerator plant where they will be burned – and the energy fed straight into London’s electricity supply.
It is believed the cigarettes, which arrived in the early hours of 21 January, were destined for Birmingham.